Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Oman restricts access into or out of several Muscat Districts until further notice due to COVID-19 activity. Additional restrictions likely.

This alert affects Oman

This alert began 01 Apr 2020 09:55 GMT and is scheduled to expire 29 May 2020 21:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-related restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions

Summary
Omani authorities have restricted most access into or out of Muscat's Muttrah, Ruwi, Wadi Kabir, and Darsait districts from April 1 until further notice as the latest effort to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Entry into and exit from the districts is only permitted for essential services and for Omani nationals and residents who carry valid identification proving they reside in the impacted districts.

Omani authorities announced plans March 31 to implement new internal movement restrictions, preventing travel between any of the sultanate's 10 governorates, with certain exemptions, as part of the nation's effort to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The measure came into effect April 1; it remains unclear when authorities will lift the restrictions. Military and police personnel will deploy and establish checkpoints along key thoroughfares in order to enforce the edict. Those exempt from the decision are:

  • Public and private sector workers whose presence on-site has been determined 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 new inter-governorate travel restriction is in addition to measures already taken by the government in Muscat, including:
 

  • 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.
  • Indefinite closure of all nonessential businesses except groceries, pharmacies, and medical facilities starting March 18. The government had already banned public gatherings and shut down 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; Omani nationals have been prevented from leaving the country since March 18.



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.

Advice
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.

Resources
World Health Organisation (WHO): www.who.int

Ministry of Health: www.moh.gov.om