Severity: Critical Alert
Entry/Exit: Authorities in Oman extend lockdown of Muscat Governorate through 2200 May 29 to stem spread of COVID-19. Additional restrictions likely.
This alert affects Oman
This alert began 05 May 2020 14:25 GMT and is scheduled to expire 29 May 2020 23:59 GMT.
- Incident: Restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Travel and business disruptions, increased security
Omani authorities have extended a lockdown of Muscat Governorate, including Muttrah District, and Jalan Bani Bu Ali, Ash Sharqiyah South Governorate through 2200 May 29 as part of the Sultanate's efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Travel into and out of the governorate and Jalan Bani Bu Ali is prohibited. Within Muscat city, travel into and out of specific districts for residents of the governorate, including Muttrah, Ruwi, Wadi Kabir, and Darsait, is also restricted. Movement into or out of the governorate or into or out of specific areas in Muscat city is only permitted for essential services and for Omani nationals and residents who carry valid identification proving they reside in the impacted areas.
Omani authorities previously implemented internal movement restrictions, preventing travel between the Sultanate's 10 governorates from April 1, with certain exemptions. It remains unclear when authorities will lift the restrictions. Military and police personnel have deployed and established checkpoints along key thoroughfares to enforce the edict. Those exempt from the decision are:
- Public and private sector workers whose presence on-site are determined as essential by their employers.
- Ambulance and emergency vehicles.
- Military and security vehicles.
- Vehicles that transport foodstuff and necessities for citizens and residents.
- Vehicles that transport construction and commercial materials, oil derivatives, and similar supplies needed in the public and private sectors.
- Residents performing necessary travel between governorates, as assessed by checkpoint personnel.
The inter-governorate travel restriction is in addition to other measures already in place, including:
- On May 4, authorities announced the closure of Muscat Governorate's Al Wadi Al Kabir industrial area until further notice.
- All educational and religious institutions are closed until further notice.
- On April 28, the Sultanate eased some COVID-19-related restrictions during the month of Ramadan, allowing some companies to resume operations. Businesses permitted to reopen include money changers, vehicle repair workshops, and rental offices, shops selling electronic goods, and equipment and machinery stores. Stores must, however, still adhere to health measures such as safe social distancing.
- Suspension of all domestic and international passenger flights effective March 29, with the general exception of flights between Muscat International Airport (MCT) and Khasab Airport (KHS) in Musandam Governorate. Cargo flights are not affected.
- A ban on public gatherings and closure of tourist sites, parks, and beaches.
- An indefinite government ban on foreigners entering Oman via any entry point effective March 18. Only Omani nationals are permitted to enter but must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine period; authorities have prevented Omani citizens from leaving the country since March 18.
Authorities could introduce new preventive restrictions, depending on the evolution of 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.