Severity: Warning Alert
Entry/Exit: Entry restrictions in place throughout MENA region due to COVID-19 through at least late April. Confirm flights and business appointments.
The locations affected by this alert are:
- United Arab Emirates
- Palestinian Territories
- Western Sahara
- Saudi Arabia
This alert began 15 Apr 2020 13:30 GMT and is scheduled to expire 24 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.
- Incident: COVID-related restrictions
- Location(s): Middle East and North Africa (map)
- Time Frame: Through at least late-April
- 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 late April. 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; the carrier had initially suspended operations through April 4.
- 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 is suspended through April 24. All modes of private and public transport must cease operation during curfew hours.
- Iran: An indefinite intercity travel ban has been in effect since March 26. Officials did not specify how long the ban would last.
- Iraq: Commercial flights remain suspended until at least April 18. There is also a nationwide curfew in place through April 19. Authorities have not elaborated upon what exactly the curfew entails or the number of hours it is in effect.
- 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. Public transportation is significantly reduced. 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 2.
- Jordan: All flights to and from Jordan are suspended, and all land borders and seaports are closed until further notice. All public transportation services are suspended. Travel between governorates is also banned.
- Kuwait: All commercial flights to and from Kuwait are suspended until further notice.
- Lebanon: Authorities shut down operations at Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY), regional airports, and all seaports through at least April 26.
- Libya: It remains unclear if authorities have lifted closures on the country's land, sea, and air borders. Authorities had previously closed the country's land, sea, and air borders through at least April 6; however, as of April 14, neither the Tobruk-based government in eastern Libya nor the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli has provided any update concerning the status of the country's borders.
- 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: Qatari 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: Flag carriers Etihad (EY) and Emirates (EK) began operating limited repatriation flights out of the UAE to a select number of destinations from April 5 and 6, respectively. EY will operate repatriation flights to Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and South Korea. EK will operate repatriation flights to Algeria, Afghanistan, Belgium, France, Germany, Indonesia, Philippines, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tunisia, and the UK. Additional destinations may be added at a later date subject to governmental approval. Only citizens of the destination country will be permitted to board the flights. Only Emirati nationals will be permitted to board repatriation flights into the UAE. Regular inbound, outbound, and transit passenger flights remain suspended until further notice. 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 Emirati citizens traveling abroad until further notice. Officials in Dubai suspended metro and tram services from April 5 until further notice.
- Western Sahara: Morocco's travel restrictions apply.
- Yemen: All commercial flights to and from areas under the control of President Abed Rabo Mansour al-Hadi had been previously suspended through April 1. The Shi'a Al-Houthi rebels, who control Sana'a and much of northern Yemen, closed Sana'a International Airport (SAH) through April 1. However, neither al-Hadi's government nor the Al-Houthis have issued any updates on the status of the airports; some Saudi-approved humanitarian flights have reportedly been flying in and out of SAH. Yemenia (IY) - the flag carrier of the country - has announced it will suspend all flights through at least April 16, as all of the country's airports remain closed to commercial flights. All border crossings are closed until further notice.
Countries could expand restrictions in the coming days, particularly if the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 increases.
Background and Analysis
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.
World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int