Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Nepal to resume domestic flights, inter-district travel from Sept. 21. Other COVID-19 controls remain in effect.

Alert Begins 15 Sep 2020 07:37 AM UTC
Alert Expires 06 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 continues to modify restrictions to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as of Sept. 15. Authorities will allow domestic flights and inter-district travel to resume from Sept. 21. Protocols, such as reduced passenger capacities, will likely be in place.

Nonessential activity and travel have resumed in the Kathmandu Valley, which comprises Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Lalitpur districts, with restrictions. Public and private vehicles may run with limited passenger load and must follow the odd-even rule, under which vehicles with an even registration number may operate on even dates on the Nepali calendar and vice versa, with an exception for emergency vehicles. Prior permission from district authorities is necessary for passenger travel to Kathmandu Valley for nonessential purposes; cargo travel is unaffected. Nonessential businesses can operate with reduced operating hours or schedule. Departmental stores, street vendors, and electronic and stationery shops can open up to 1100 and 1600-1900 daily. Furniture and automobile shops may operate Mondays and Wednesdays, while shopping malls and garment and cosmetics stores can open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.

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, as well as Morang's Biratnagar Metropolitan City and Rupandehi's Butwal city. Residents must stay home to the extent possible. 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.

Nationwide measures remain in place. Stay-in and dine-in services at hotels and restaurants are still suspended. Authorities require residents to wear protective face coverings and adhere to social distancing guidelines while in public. Nonessential gatherings of more than 15 people, educational institutions, houses of worship, and recreational facilities remain suspended.

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 have resumed, 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 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.

As of Sept. 15, citizens can enter through land border crossings via 10 checkpoints, including Birgunj in 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. 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. Cargo transit is allowed at land borders, including the Rasuwagadi and Tatopani crossings with China, with protocols such as requiring cargo handlers to wear protective gear and undergo frequent medical screenings. Land border trade with India is limited to the import of essential items. Shipping disruptions are possible, especially if authorities reintroduce the ban on non-citizen transporters.

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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