Severity: Warning Alert
Entry/Exit: Restrictions in place throughout MENA region due to COVID-19 through at least early June. Confirm flights and business appointments.
The locations affected by this alert are:
- United Arab Emirates
- Palestinian Territories
- Western Sahara
- Saudi Arabia
This alert began 27 May 2020 23:23 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 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 early June. 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 are suspended until further notice.
- Bahrain: Flights to and from Saudi Arabia, 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 are subject to health screenings and a 14-day home quarantine. According to Bahrain's flag carrier Gulf Air (GF), transit through Bahrain International Airport (BAH) is permitted for international travelers. Entry into Bahrain remains restricted to Bahraini nationals and residents, as well as other 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 2000-0600.
- Iran: The intercity travel ban has been lifted, and shopping malls and bazaars have been allowed to reopen nationwide. Shopping malls and bazaars are required to close by 1800 daily. Many government offices have reopened. Restaurants and cafes reopened May 27.
- Iraq: Commercial flights remain suspended until at least 2000 May 31. A 24-hour nationwide curfew is in place through 0500 May 31. All travel between KRG and the rest of Iraq remain suspended through at least June 1.
- 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 is still in effect. 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; weekend public bus service has resumed. 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 has resumed operations; the company operates intercity, commuter, and freight rail services.
- Jordan: All flights to and from Jordan are suspended; all land borders and seaports are also closed until further notice. Travel between governorates is banned. Authorities have reduced the nationwide nightly curfew to 1900-0800. 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 remain suspended; the closure does not apply to UN, diplomatic, and cargo flights.
- Libya: Movement and travel restrictions will likely be implemented sporadically throughout Libya through June. The response to COVID-19 has been disjointed to date, and communication concerning efforts limited.
- Morocco: All flights to and from Morocco are suspended through May 31. The 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 remain in effect.
- Oman: Foreigners are banned 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: Travel between governorates in the West Bank resumed May 27; 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, although placed under a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Qatari citizens are not allowed to exit the country. All public transport is suspended.
- Saudi Arabia: Domestic flights will resume beginning May 31; however, all international flights remain suspended until further notice. The King Fahd Causeway linking Saudi Arabia and Bahrain remains closed. Land border crossings with Kuwait, Yemen, and the UAE remain closed until further notice. Travel between provinces will be permitted from May 31.
- 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) is operating multiple regular, non-repatriation flights to several locations in Europe, North America, and Australia through at least June 30. Etihad Airways (EY) is operating only repatriation flights through at least June 15. Passengers will only be permitted to fly if they comply with the entry criteria and requirements of their destination countries. Only Emirati nationals and residents will be allowed to return to the UAE. 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. All visas on-arrival to foreigners, except those with diplomatic passports, have been suspended. Authorities announced March 20 that they would deny entry to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nationals until further notice. Emirati officials imposed a ban on citizens traveling abroad until further notice.
- Western Sahara: Morocco's travel restrictions apply.
- Yemen: Movement and travel restrictions will likely be implemented sporadically throughout Yemen through June. 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 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.