Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Nepal extends coronavirus-related restrictions on domestic travel through Sept. 16. Limited international flights resuming Sept. 1.

Alert Begins 31 Aug 2020 04:08 PM UTC
Alert Expires 14 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions; possible clashes

Nepali authorities have extended measures restricting domestic travel through at least Sept. 16 as part of ongoing efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Domestic flights and long-route public transport services remain suspended. However, Domestic travelers with prior permission and cargo transport transit are exempt from the restrictions.

Authorities have also extended the measures and restrictions in high-risk zones across Nepal. Officials are banning nonessential activity and travel in the Kathmandu Valley, which comprises Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur districts, through at least Sept. 2. Nonessential activity is limited in other high-risk zones, including parts of Banke, Bara, Bhajang, Chitwan, Darchula, Dhanusha, Jhapa, Kanchanpur, Kaski, Sindhupalchok, Sunsari, Mahottari, Nuwakot, Parsa, Rautahat, Saptari, Sarlahi, and Syangja districts. Morang's Biratnagar Metropolitan City and Rupandehi's Butwal city are also affected. Local administration and police will continue to enforce and facilitate control measures. Residents must stay home to the extent possible. Essential and permitted businesses must operate with social distancing measures, and may be subject to closures. All permitted private and public transport must follow an odd-even rule; officials will allow vehicles with an even registration number to operate on dates with even numbers and vice versa. Entry and exit to such areas are limited. Additional restrictions are ongoing in Kathmandu Valley, where officials are banning all local vehicular movement from 2100-0500 and vehicular entry from 1900-0700 daily.

Additional nationwide measures continue. Hotels and restaurants have suspended stay-in and dine-in services. Authorities require residents to wear protective face coverings and adhere to social distancing guidelines while in public. Nonessential gatherings of more than 15 people are prohibited. Educational institutions, houses of worship, and recreational facilities remain closed.

While banks and businesses selling essential goods, such as fuel, food, and medicines, remain open nationwide, officials will almost certainly regulate price, supply, and operating hours. Panic-buying and associated localized shortages of essential goods may occur in some areas following the suspension of nonessential activity. Sporadic clashes are possible if groups attempt to enforce business closures or defy official orders. Police may forcibly disperse unruly crowds. Violators may face legal action.

Additional Travel Restrictions
Nepali authorities are allowing the resumption of repatriation flights as of Aug. 31. All citizens returning via air or land routes must undergo a self-paid, seven-day quarantine at a designated hotel; officials may advise further self-isolation, home quarantine, or institutional quarantine based on medical screening outcomes. Domestic and international commercial flights remain suspended. Domestic commercial flights remain suspended. Although officials have authorized the resumption of limited international commercial flights from Sept. 1, only Nepali citizens who have received permission to repatriate, diplomatic staff, and other specially authorized travelers will be allowed on the inbound services. Authorities are allowing chartered flights for humanitarian, cargo, and other essential purposes into the country.

Nepal has also suspended on-arrival and electronic visa issuance for all foreign nationals and nonresidents until further notice. Earlier, authorities mandated that travelers contact their local Nepali diplomatic mission for visa approval and submit a swab test result demonstrating that the individual is COVID-19-free within seven days before the intended travel date. Officials continue to advise Nepali citizens against nonessential international travel. Health checks are mandatory at all entry points. Intensified land border patrols to prevent unauthorized entry continue, especially along the India-Nepal border; sporadic arrests and clashes are possible.

Nepal is permitting citizens returning from neighboring countries through land border crossings to enter only via 10 checkpoints through at least Sept. 16, namely Birgunj of Parsa District, Belahiya in Rupandehi District, Gaddachauki in Kanchanpur District, Gaur in Rautahat district, Gauriphanta in Kailai District, Jamunaha in Banke District, Kakarbhitta in Jhapa District, Krishnanagar in Kapilvastu District, Madar in Siraha District, and Rani in Morang District. Officials are allowing cargo transit at land borders. The Rasuwagadi and Tatopani crossings with China are open. Cargo handlers must follow health precautions, including wearing protective gear and undergoing frequent medical screenings. Land border trade with India is limited to the import of essential items as well. Shipping disruptions are possible, especially if Nepalese authorities reintroduce the mandate prohibiting transporters without Nepalese citizenship.

Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the Nepali government are similar to actions taken by other regional governments as part of ongoing efforts to curb 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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