Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Nepal to ban inter-district movement from May 14, amid nationwide preventive restrictions through May 18 and flight ban until May 31.

This alert affects Nepal

This alert began 13 May 2020 09:35 GMT and is scheduled to expire 31 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Preventive restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Movement and travel restrictions, transport and business disruptions, quarantine measures; possible clashes

Effective May 14, Nepal will prohibit all inter-district movement except for essential workers with a special permit, as part of measures to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Other nationwide restrictions on movement, business, and social gatherings will continue through at least May 18. Additionally, the suspension of international and domestic flights - except for cargo, emergency, and repatriation flights - will be in place until at least May 31. International land border crossing points will also remain closed for passenger transit until at least May 31, though trade is permitted.

Under the restrictions extended through May 18, the government has mandated all residents to stay at home and ensure social distancing when going out for essential needs. A ban continues on all public gatherings, as well as the closure of educational institutions, tourist sites, public venues, and entertainment sites. Emergency and utility services will remain operational. Although banks and businesses selling essential goods such as fuel, food, and medicines will remain open, panic-buying and associated localized shortages of essential goods may occur in some areas. Officials have advised nonessential public and private entities to utilize telecommuting facilities to the extent possible. Retail shops except for malls, industries related to agriculture and construction, and supporting services and supply chains, are permitted to operate with social distancing measures in areas reporting limited COVID-19 spread such as the capital city of Kathmandu. All public and private vehicles are limited to essential and emergency services. Officials have limited movement of government vehicles to 0900-1030 and 1700-1800, bank vehicles to 0930-1000 and 1530-1700, and vehicles carrying essential items to before 1000. While transport availability is significantly affected, industries can apply for special permissions to maintain supply delivery.

Authorities are enforcing expanded measures in some provinces and localities. As of May 13, officials in Province 5 have sealed off Kapilvastu district through May 18, as well as Arghakhanchi and Rupandehi districts until further notice; similar measures are in place across Bara and Parsa districts in Province 2, indefinitely. No vehicle movement is allowed within, into, or out of affected areas, except for essential and emergency purposes; business operation is limited to essential services. Individuals must stay indoors at all times, other than to buy essential goods between 0700 and 0900. Further localized control measures are possible in the coming days.

Provincial administrations and security personnel are ensuring compliance with the control measures. Sporadic clashes are possible if any group attempts to defy movement and business restrictions. Police are likely to act quickly to control such incidents.

Additional Travel Restrictions

Although flight and land border restrictions have effectively ended nearly all inbound international travel, Nepal is maintaining a specific ban on travel or transit for passengers from Europe, Gulf Arab countries, Iran, Turkey, Malaysia, Japan, and South Korea. Nepal has also suspended on-arrival and electronic visa issuance for all foreign nationals and non-resident Nepalese until further notice. Those wishing to travel to Nepal must contact their local Nepali diplomatic mission for visa approval and submit the results of a swab test demonstrating that the individual is COVID-19 free within seven days before the intended travel date. Officials have advised Nepali citizens against nonessential international travel. Health checks are mandatory at all entry points. Officials are advising incoming travelers, regardless of nationality, to self-isolate for two weeks or undergo a 14-day quarantine at home or in a medical facility based on medical screening outcomes.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments 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 business appointments, deliveries, and 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. Ensure access to essential items; 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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