Severity: Warning Alert
Entry/Exit: Restrictions in place throughout MENA region due to COVID-19 through at least May 30. Confirm flights and business appointments.
The locations affected by this alert are:
- United Arab Emirates
- Palestinian Territories
- Western Sahara
- Saudi Arabia
This alert began 19 May 2020 15:24 GMT and is scheduled to expire 03 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Middle East and North Africa (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Major transport and business disruptions
Travel and other restrictions intended to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will remain in effect in countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region through at least May 30. Cargo, humanitarian, diplomatic, and repatriation flights and shipments are largely ongoing. The duration of the measures will likely depend on the evolution of the disease activity in the coming weeks.
- Algeria: Land, air, and sea connections for passenger travel are suspended until further notice. On April 1, Air Algerie (AH) extended the suspension of all its passenger flights until further notice.
- Bahrain: Flights to and from Iraq, Lebanon, Kuwait, Jordan, and Morocco are suspended until further notice. Travelers who transited through or departed from Iraq, Lebanon, and Iran in the 14 days prior to arrival will be denied entry (this measure excludes Bahraini or GCC citizens). All arrivals will be subjected to health screenings and a 14-day home quarantine. Bahrain's flag carrier - Gulf Air (GF) - announced April 4 that transit through Bahrain International Airport (BAH) is now permitted for international travelers. Entry into Bahrain remains restricted to nationals, residents, and travelers holding a letter of prior permission to enter. Authorities have suspended visas on-arrival until further notice.
- Egypt: Air traffic at all of the nation's airports remains suspended until further notice. All modes of private and public transport must cease operation during the curfew hours of 2100-0600.
- Iran: Officials lifted an intercity travel ban and permitted shopping malls and bazaars to reopen nationwide April 20. President Hassan Rouhani stated that shopping malls and bazaars are required to close by 1800 daily. Many government offices also reopened April 11.
- Iraq: Commercial flights remain suspended until at least May 22. A 1700-0500 curfew will also be in place through at least May 22. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) extended its 1900-2359 curfew hours through at least May 18; it will likely be extended further.
- Israel: All foreigners are barred from entering Israel until further notice. Israeli citizens and permanent residents are permitted to enter. All border crossings with Jordan and Egypt are closed. A mandatory quarantine order for all residents returning from abroad has been in effect since March 20. El Al (LY) Airlines suspended all passenger flights to and from Israel through at least May 30. Public transportation has begun gradually increasing operations nationwide. Israeli authorities resumed weekend public bus services starting May 15. Services had been restricted to limited routes operating on weekdays only; any weekday bus lines that have been suspended will not resume operation until further notice. Additionally, state-owned rail carrier Israel Railways resumed operations beginning May 17. Israel Railways operates intercity, commuter, and freight rail services.
- Jordan: All flights to and from Jordan are suspended, and all land borders and seaports are closed until further notice. Travel between governorates is banned. Authorities reduced the nationwide nightly curfew to 1900-0800, beginning May 12. The nightly curfew, as well as a comprehensive 24-hour curfew on weekends (Fridays and Saturdays), remain in effect until further notice.
- Kuwait: All commercial flights to and from Kuwait are suspended until further notice.
- Lebanon: Operations at Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY), regional airports, and all seaports have remained suspended since March 18; the closure does not apply to UN, diplomatic, and cargo flights.
- Libya: Movement and travel restrictive measures are likely to be implemented sporadically throughout Libya through May. The response to COVID-19 has been disjointed to date, and communication on efforts limited. The ongoing conflict in the country will further complicate efforts, and conflict-related developments may also result in further restrictions. The Tripoli-based, internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) has extended an 1800-0600 curfew in Tripoli and surrounding cities under its control through May 28. The GNA has also restricted travel and reduced government working hours to 0900-1200. The Tobruk-based government in eastern Libya, which supports self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) leader Khalifa Haftar, has also imposed an 1800-0600 curfew through May 7; it is unclear if the measure has been extended.
- Morocco: All flights to and from Morocco are suspended indefinitely. Suspension of sea travel to Spain, Gibraltar, and France and the closure of the border with the Spanish autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla on the north coast of Africa have been in effect from March 16.
- Oman: An indefinite ban on foreigners entering Oman has been in effect from March 18. 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: Travel between governorates in the West Bank is banned; border crossings to the West Bank and Gaza Strip have closed to commercial traffic until further notice.
- Qatar: Authorities have indefinitely extended the nation's existing suspension of inbound flights. Transit flights are exempt from the measure. Foreigners are barred from entering the country; however, residents returning from abroad will be permitted to enter and will be placed under a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Qatari citizens are not allowed to exit the country. All public transport is suspended.
- Saudi Arabia: All domestic flights and public transport remain suspended. All international flights have been indefinitely suspended. The King Fahd Causeway linking Saudi Arabia and Bahrain remains temporarily closed. Land border crossings with Kuwait, Yemen, and the UAE remain closed until further notice. Travel between provinces is prohibited until further notice.
- Syria: Public transportation is suspended in all governorates, and the border with Lebanon is closed.
- Tunisia: Tunisia's land, air, and sea borders are closed to passenger travel indefinitely.
- United Arab Emirates: Emirates Airlines (EK) and Etihad Airways (EY) announced they would operate multiple regular, non-repatriation flights to several locations in Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Australasia from May 10. Passengers will only be permitted to fly if they comply with the entry criteria and requirements of their destination countries. Passengers wishing to return to the UAE must be an Emirati national or resident. Travelers to the UAE must first receive approval from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship through the Twajudi Resident Service. All passengers arriving in the UAE will undergo testing, a mandatory 14-day quarantine period, and a follow-up test before release. Only Emirati nationals and residents will be permitted to board repatriation flights into the UAE. All visas on-arrival to foreigners, except those with diplomatic passports, have been suspended since March 17. Authorities announced March 20 that they would deny entry to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nationals until further notice. Emirati officials imposed a temporary ban on citizens traveling abroad until further notice.
- Western Sahara: Morocco's travel restrictions apply.
- Yemen: Movement and travel restrictive measures are likely to be implemented sporadically throughout Yemen through May. The government response has so far been disjointed, and 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 further restrictions.
Countries could expand restrictions in the coming days, particularly if the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 increases.
Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the governments correspond with similar 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.