Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Nepal maintaining reduced domestic COVID-19 controls as of Sept. 24. Travel restrictions remain, cargo transit with China affected.

Alert Begins 24 Sep 2020 07:32 AM UTC
Alert Expires 31 Oct 2020 11:59 PM UTC

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

Nepal is maintaining reduced nationwide and localized restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as of Sept. 24. Authorities plan to allow foreign tourists with a negative COVID-19 test result to enter with possible exemption from quarantine, starting Oct. 17, depending on local cases. COVID-19-related land border closures by Chinese authorities are ongoing at Rasuwagadhi-Gyirong/Kerung and Tatopani-Zhangmu/Khasa checkpoints, disrupting cargo trade, leaving hundreds of Nepali trucks stranded. Similar closures have intermittently occurred at the China-Nepal border from late January. Cross-border trade with India is limited to the import of essential items; cargo handlers must follow health precautions, including wearing protective gear and undergoing frequent medical screenings. Further shipping disruptions are possible in the coming weeks due to local or international measures.

Domestic flights and interdistrict travel have restarted across Nepal. Offices and factories can open with controls in place, while hotels and restaurants nationwide may resume in-person services. Additionally, passenger vehicles can enter and exit Kathmandu Valley, which comprises Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Lalitpur districts; cargo travel remains operational. Vehicles in the area must still comply with protocols, including passenger load limits and the odd-even rule, under which vehicles with an even registration number may operate on even dates on the Nepali calendar and vice versa; emergency vehicles are exempt from the curbs. Officials no longer require shops in the Kathmandu Valley to comply with reduced operating hours or specific-day rules. Authorities have

Some nationwide measures remain in place. Authorities require residents to wear facemasks and adhere to social distancing guidelines while in public. Educational institutions, houses of worship, and recreational facilities remain suspended. Some nonessential businesses, like beauty parlors, cinemas, gyms, pubs, and spas, also remain closed. The government also continues to ban nonessential gatherings of more than 15 people and crowded events like fairs, festivals, and seminars.

Several areas are enacting localized curbs on top of nationwide protocols. Nonessential activity remains limited in some high-risk zones. Residents must stay home to the extent possible in these locations. Essential and permitted businesses must operate with social distancing measures and may be subject to closures. Permitted private and public transport must follow an odd-even rule. Entry and exit to the areas are limited. Local officials continue to enforce and facilitate control measures.

While banks and businesses selling essential goods 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 any 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.

Travel Restrictions
International flights from select destinations are operational, though services remain limited and mostly serve returning Nepali citizens and residents. On-arrival and electronic visa issuance remain suspended, with exception for foreigners officially affiliated to international development organizations and diplomatic missions. Foreigners wishing to travel to Nepal must obtain visas from a Nepali diplomatic mission; officials may require medical and employment documents. Approved incoming travelers must submit negative results of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test conducted no more than 72 hours before the travel date, present a hard copy of online registration on the COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre website upon arrival, and isolate at their residence for 14 days. Foreigners already in Nepal may obtain paid visa extensions through Dec. 15.

Citizens can enter through land border crossings via 12 select checkpoints through Oct. 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, Khalanga in Dharchula District, Krishnanagar in Kapilvastu District, Madar in Siraha District, Pashupatinagar in Ilam District, and Rani in Morang District. Citizens returning via land routes without PCR test results must quarantine at designated hotels at their own expense; officials may advise further self-isolation, home quarantine, or institutional quarantine based on medical screening outcomes.

Officials continue to advise Nepali citizens against nonessential international travel. Health checks are mandatory at all entry points. Authorities continue to maintain intensified land border patrols to prevent unauthorized entry, especially along the India-Nepal border; arrests and clashes are possible.

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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