Severity: Warning Alert

Exit/Entry: Restrictions in place throughout MENA region through at least Sept. 15 due to COVID-19. Confirm flights and business appointments.

Alert Begins 03 Sep 2020 02:30 AM UTC
Alert Expires 15 Oct 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Middle East and North Africa (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Major transport and business disruptions

Restrictions intended to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will remain in effect in countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region through at least Sept. 15. Cargo, humanitarian, diplomatic, and repatriation flights and shipments are largely ongoing. The duration of the measures will likely depend on the evolution of disease activity in the coming weeks.


  • Algeria: Land, air, and sea connections for passenger travel remain suspended until further notice.


  • Bahrain: Authorities in Bahrain stopped a mandatory 10-day quarantine period for all arrivals into the country effective Aug. 20. Under the new measures, arrivals will be tested twice, once on arrival and then 10 days later, but will be able to end their self-isolation if the first test result is negative. Previously, all arrivals were subject to a 10-day isolation period regardless of the testing outcome. The measure comes amid a gradually phased easing of COVID-19 restrictions. Saudi Arabian nationals currently residing in Bahrain are permitted to return to Saudi Arabia via the King Fahd Causeway without prior permission. International travelers are allowed to transit through Bahrain International Airport (BAH). Full entry into Bahrain remains restricted to Bahraini citizens and residents only.


  • Egypt: Air traffic at all of the nation's airports resumed July 1. All modes of public transport can operate 0400-2359.


  • Iran: Authorities have lifted most COVID-19 restrictions; however, they intermittently impose sanctions on cities and areas where there is a sudden uptick in the number of cases.


  • Iraq: Authorities in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have lifted the ban on travel between the region's governorates, and with the rest of Iraq, as of Aug. 24. The measure is a part of regulations to ease COVID-19 restrictions. The region's border crossings with Iran remain closed to tourists but are open for commercial purposes. Airports in the region reopened Aug. 1. All outbound and inbound travelers at airports in the KRG must prove that they tested negative for COVID-19 48 hours before the flight. Outbound passengers who wish to take the COVID-19 test must arrive at government-designated clinics with passports, face coverings, and at least 100,000 IQD (USD 84); authorities will only accept Iraqi currency for payment. Test results are likely to arrive within 24-48 hours. Travelers intending to take the test at the airport for outbound flights may face delays. All arrivals are required to quarantine for at least 14 days. Authorities will exempt officials, business travelers, and tourists on a short stay. In the rest of Iraq, authorities extended the nationwide daily 2200-0500 until further notice.


  • Israel: Authorities in Israel extended their existing entry ban for nonresident foreign nationals through at least Oct. 1. Israel's flag carrier El Al Airlines (LY) has extended its suspension of regular passenger flights until at least Sept. 30. Cargo and emergency flights remain unaffected. The Ministry of Health has exempted Israeli citizens and residents returning from certain countries with low COVID-19 infection rates from the nation's mandatory 14-day quarantine beginning Aug. 16.


  • Jordan: Authorities in Jordan will resume international commercial flights at Queen Alia International Airport (AMM) beginning Sept. 8. Authorities have classified countries according to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity, with green denoting low activity, yellow denoting moderate activity, and red denoting high activity. Instructions for travelers will vary according to the classification of their country of origin. Authorities have not announced the country classifications. All travelers must have spent the 14 days before travel in the country that they are departing from and will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours of their scheduled flight. Travelers will be tested again at their own expense upon arrival in Jordan.


  • Kuwait: All commercial flights to and from Kuwait resumed beginning Aug. 1.


  • Lebanon: Travelers at Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY) must provide negative results of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test before entering the country. Travelers from countries with high infection rates will undergo 24 to 48 hours of quarantine in designated hotels until they receive their test results.


  • Libya: Movement and travel restrictions will likely be implemented sporadically throughout Libya through September. The response to COVID-19 has been disjointed to date, and communication concerning efforts limited.


  • Morocco: All international passenger flights to and from Morocco remain suspended indefinitely; however, some airlines continue to operate limited repatriation and charter flights. Domestic flights resumed June 27. The suspension of sea travel to Spain, Gibraltar, and France, and the border closure with the Spanish autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla on the north coast of Africa remain in place.


  • Oman: Authorities have banned foreigners from entering Oman indefinitely. Only Omani nationals will be permitted entry, with a mandatory 14-day quarantine period. Commercial flights remain suspended until further notice; domestic flights between Muscat and Musandam Governorate are still operating.


  • Palestinian Territories: Authorities have extended the existing state of emergency through Sept. 4 to combat COVID-19. All businesses will be permitted to operate on Fridays and Saturdays, provided they adhere to public health precautions issued by the Ministry of Health. Border crossings to the West Bank and Gaza Strip are closed to commercial traffic until further notice.


  • Qatar: Qatari authorities began the initial steps of Phase 4 of their plan to lift the country's COVID-19 restrictions from Sept. 1. Measures under the first part include allowing more inbound flights from low-risk countries. Arrivals from low-risk countries must take a COVID-19 test and undergo a one-week quarantine. Authorities have also resumed public transport and metro services at 30 percent capacity.


  • Saudi Arabia: Domestic flights have resumed; however, all international flights remain suspended through Sept. 29. Authorities have permitted Saudi nationals, their non-Saudi family members, and domestic employees to return to the kingdom via selected land ports since Aug. 24. Those returning must provide proof of their relationship and obtain prior approval before their arrival. The measures currently only apply to the following land ports: Khafji, Al-Raqi, Al-Batha, and the King Fahd Causeway. All those returning must comply with existing or future preventive measures upon their return.


  • Syria: Authorities have lifted most COVID-19 restrictions; however, they intermittently impose sanctions on cities and areas where there is a sudden uptick in the number of cases.


  • Tunisia: Tunisia's land, air, and sea borders reopened June 27.


  • United Arab Emirates: Emirates Airlines (EK) and Etihad Airways (EY) are operating multiple regular, nonrepatriation flights to several locations in Europe, North America, and Australia. Authorities will only permit passengers to fly if they comply with their destination countries' entry criteria and requirements. Dubai began accepting international tourists July 7. Tourists must obtain a negative COVID-19 test obtained 96 hours before departure.


  • Western Sahara: Morocco's travel restrictions apply.


  • Yemen: Movement and travel restrictions will likely be implemented sporadically throughout Yemen through September. The responses by the Al-Houthi rebels in northern Yemen and the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabo Mansour al-Hadi in southern Yemen have been disjointed, with communication on efforts limited. The ongoing conflict in the country and recent separatist action in Aden will further complicate efforts, and conflict-related developments may also result in additional restrictions.


Countries could ease further restrictions or introduce additional restrictions, depending on the disease activity in the coming days and weeks.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the governments are similar to actions taken by other governments globally in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Back to the COVID-19 Risk Intelligence & Resource Center