Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Omani authorities extend lockdown on Dhofar Governorate and Masirah Island July 14; Omani nationals now permitted to fly abroad.
- Alert Begins: 14 Jul 2020 04:38 PM UTC
- Alert Expires: 31 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Travel and business disruptions, increased security
Authorities in Oman indefinitely extended a lockdown on Dhofar Governorate and Masirah Island July 14. The measure is part of the Sultanate's efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Authorities will also begin facilitating Omani nationals' requests to travel abroad, provided that they, upon arrival in Oman, comply with the Sultanate's existing or future preventive measures. Authorities had prevented Omani citizens from leaving the country since March 18. Foreigners are prohibited from entering Oman via any entry point until further notice. Only Omani nationals may enter the country, though they must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine period. It remains unclear when the Sultanate will allow regular commercial flights to resume.
Previously enacted restrictions in Oman include:
- Authorities permitted certain businesses to reopen from June 24. Establishments that will be allowed to resume operating under the new rule include shopping malls, laundrettes, maintenance businesses, and real estate offices. All businesses that reopen must comply with social-distancing guidelines and other safety directives. Companies are allowed to operate at 50-percent workforce capacity, provided they can comply with social distancing and other safety guidelines.
- Public gatherings are banned, and tourist sites, parks, and beaches are closed. Tourist sites, including Jebel Al Akhdar and Jebel Shams remain closed until further notice, with entry and exit prohibited. Authorities have established checkpoints along key thoroughfares in the impacted areas to ensure compliance with the restrictions.
- Muttrah District in Muscat Governorate is on lockdown until further notice. The measure applies to parts of Greater Muttrah, including Ruwi and Al Hamra. Travel into and out of the impacted areas remains prohibited.
- The use of protective face coverings in public spaces and transportation remains mandatory.
- All educational and religious institutions are closed until further notice.
- All domestic and international passenger flights remain suspended, with the general exception of flights between Muscat International Airport (MCT) and Khasab Airport (KHS) in Musandam Governorate. The measure does not apply to cargo flights.
Authorities could introduce new preventive measures or further ease restrictions, depending on disease activity in the coming days and weeks.
Background and Analysis
Oman's travel restrictions and preventive measures are similar to actions other governments are taking globally 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 all 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. 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.