Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Nepal extends flight ban through June 30. Other nationwide COVID-19-related restrictions remain in effect through at least June 14.

This alert affects Nepal

This alert began 30 May 2020 19:02 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions, quarantine measures; possible clashes

Nepalese officials have extended their nationwide suspension of international and domestic flights through June 30; the ban does not apply to cargo, emergency, and repatriation flight. Other nationwide restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by limiting nonessential movement, business, and social gatherings are to remain in place through at least June 14. International land border crossing points are scheduled to remain closed for passenger transit until at least June 30, though the government will allow the repatriation of stranded Nepalese citizens. The movement of goods remains permitted at international borders.

Under the restrictions scheduled to remain in place through at least June 14, the government has mandated all residents to stay at home and ensure social distancing when going out for essential needs. A ban on all public gatherings remains in force. Moreover, educational institutions, tourist sites, public venues, and entertainment venues remain closed. 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 allow employees to work from home 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 in areas reporting limited COVID-19 spread such as the capital city of Kathmandu, provided they comply with social distancing guidelines. The use of public and private vehicles is limited to essential tasks and emergency services; transit between districts is banned. Officials have limited government vehicle movement to 0900-1030 and 1700-1800, bank vehicles to 0930-1000 and 1530-1700, and vehicles carrying essential items to before 1000 daily. While transport availability is significantly affected, industries can apply for special permits to maintain supply delivery. On May 30, Nepalese officials said that army units will be deployed to enforce restrictions in areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases.

Authorities are enforcing stricter measures in some provinces and localities, especially in areas near the border with India. As of May 30, officials in Province 5 continue to ban movement into and out of the Arghakhanchi, Kapilvastu, and Rupandehi districts until further notice; similar measures are in place indefinitely across Bara and Parsa districts in Province 2. 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. Residents must remain in their homes at all times, although they may be outside between the hours of 0700-0900 in order to purchase essential goods. Further localized restrictions 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 will likely act quickly to control such incidents.

Additional Travel Restrictions

Although flight and land border restrictions have effectively ended nearly all inbound international passenger travel, Nepal is maintaining a specific ban on entry or transit by travelers 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. Intensified land border patrols to prevent unauthorized entry have continued, especially along the India-Nepal border; sporadic arrests and clashes are possible.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the Nepali government are similar to 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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