Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Mongolia extends movement restrictions, border closures through at least Aug. 31 due to COVID-19. Some business controls continue.

  • Alert Begins: 29 Jul 2020 06:38 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 31 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: International travel restrictions, transport and business disruptions; possible movement controls

Summary
Mongolian authorities have extended measures to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) through at least Aug. 31. The government continues to ban international commercial flights and rail passenger transport. However, the government has arranged charter flights to and from Seoul, Tokyo, Istanbul, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Prague, Seattle, and Sydney through Aug. 27, primarily to facilitate repatriations of stranded travelers. Officials will maintain restrictions at border crossings with China, as well as the Altanbulag and Tsagaannuur border crossings with Russia. The government continues to cancel most public events and conferences and ban demonstrations nationwide. While authorities are not enforcing blanket business restrictions, people must wear protective face coverings when in public, and children under 12 years old are not permitted to enter shopping centers. The government plans to resume school in phases from Sept. 1. Most students will return to in-class learning, but schools in provincial capitals and other urban areas will implement a combination of in-class and virtual learning.

In Ulaanbaatar, officials have allowed nonessential businesses to reopen, including gyms, bars, karaoke venues, retail shops, and fitness studios. However, permitted businesses are only allowed to operate 0700-2359 daily, and owners must require patrons to wear protective face masks and conduct temperature screenings of customers. Religious buildings have reopened, but services remain suspended. Libraries and museums in the capital have also opened. Ulaanbaatar residents are also required to register with local authorities before leaving the city. Authorities have previously shut down inbound travel to the capital and some other provinces following reported COVID-19 cases, and additional domestic ground transport controls remain possible if new COVID-19 activity emerges. Officials could erect checkpoints on main interprovincial roads and halt interprovincial rail transport without notice.

The country has recommenced coal exports to China through the Gashuun Sukhait and Zamyn-Uud border crossings. Congestion at border checkpoints and supply chain disruptions for goods coming from and going to China are possible for the duration of the restrictions.

Travel Restrictions
An effective ban on most foreign nationals remains in place. Officials have arranged repatriation flights and trains from some countries, though only pregnant women, senior citizens, parents with children, and those with health complications can enter the country. All arriving Mongolian citizens must undergo a 21-day quarantine at their own expense, and repatriation efforts are staggered due to limited isolation facilities.

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.

Advice
Postpone travel to Mongolia if affected by travel restrictions. Register with your diplomatic mission if attempting to depart Mongolia. Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. 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.


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