Severity: Warning Alert
Transportation: Officials in Oregon, US, continuing multi-tier coronavirus recovery plan as of early July. Many restrictions remain in place.
- Alert Begins: 09 Jul 2020 02:00 AM UTC
- Alert Expires: 06 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Middle East and North Africa (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Major transport and business disruptions
Travel and other restrictions intended to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will remain in effect in countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region through at least July 15. Cargo, humanitarian, diplomatic, and repatriation flights and shipments are largely ongoing. The duration of the measures will likely depend on the evolution of disease activity in the coming weeks.
- Algeria: Land, air, and sea connections for passenger travel remain suspended until further notice.
- Bahrain: Flights to and from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, Kuwait, Jordan, and Morocco remain suspended until further notice. Travelers who transited through or departed from Iraq, Lebanon, or Iran in the 14 days before arrival will be denied entry, except for Bahraini or Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) citizens. All arrivals are subject to health screenings and a 14-day home quarantine. According to Bahrain's flag carrier Gulf Air (GF), international travelers can transit through Bahrain International Airport (BAH). Entry into Bahrain remains restricted to Bahraini nationals and residents, as well as other travelers holding a letter of prior permission to enter. Authorities have suspended on-arrival visas until further notice.
- Egypt: Air traffic at all of the nation's airports resumed July 1. All modes of public transport can operate from 0400-2359.
- Iran: Authorities have lifted the intercity travel ban. Shopping malls and bazaars are allowed to reopen nationwide, although they must close by 1800 daily. Many government offices have reopened. Restaurants and cafes reopened May 27.
- Iraq: Commercial flights will remain suspended through July 15. All travel between governorates is banned. Authorities have imposed a weekly curfew 0600 Thursday through 0500 Sunday.
- Israel: Authorities in Israel have extended the nationwide entry ban on foreign nationals until Aug. 1. Israeli residents are permitted to return to Israel but are subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Israel flag carrier El Al (LY) Airlines is operating limited direct flights between Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) and select international destinations, including Paris, London, Los Angeles, and New York through Aug. 2.
- Jordan: All flights to and from Jordan remain suspended through July 14; all land borders and seaports are closed until further notice. Travel between governorates has resumed. Authorities have reduced the nationwide nightly curfew to 2359-0600.
- Kuwait: All commercial flights to and from Kuwait remain suspended until further notice.
- Lebanon: Operations at Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY), regional airports, and all seaports remain suspended; the closure does not apply to UN, diplomatic, or cargo flights.
- Libya: Movement and travel restrictions will likely be implemented sporadically throughout Libya through July. The response to COVID-19 has been disjointed to date, and communication concerning efforts limited.
- Morocco: All international passenger flights to and from Morocco remain suspended indefinitely; however, domestic flights resumed June 27. The suspension of sea travel to Spain, Gibraltar, and France, and the border closure with the Spanish autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla on the north coast of Africa remain in place.
- Oman: Authorities have banned foreigners from entering Oman indefinitely. Only Omani nationals will be permitted entry, with a mandatory 14-day quarantine period. Commercial flights remain suspended until further notice; domestic flights between Muscat and Musandam Governorate are still operating.
- Palestinian Territories: The Palestinian Authority (PA) extended the lockdown on all West Bank towns and governorates through at least July 12 due to an increase in COVID-19 activity. All businesses except for grocery stores and pharmacies are closed during this period. All non-essential travel in the West Bank is prohibited. Border crossings to the West Bank and Gaza Strip are closed to commercial traffic until further notice.
- Qatar: Authorities have indefinitely extended the nation's existing suspension of inbound flights. Transit flights are exempt from the measure. Foreigners remain barred from entering the country; however, authorities will allow permanent residents returning from abroad to enter, but they will undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Qatari citizens are not allowed to exit the country. All public transport remains suspended.
- Saudi Arabia: Domestic flights have resumed; however, all international flights remain suspended until further notice. The King Fahd Causeway linking Saudi Arabia and Bahrain remains closed. Land border crossings with Kuwait, Yemen, and the UAE remain closed until further notice. Travel between provinces resumed May 31.
- Syria: Authorities have suspended public transportation in all governorates, and the border with Lebanon is closed.
- Tunisia: Tunisia's land, air, and sea borders reopened June 27.
- United Arab Emirates: Emirates Airlines (EK) is operating multiple regular, nonrepatriation flights to several locations in Europe, North America, and Australia as of July 1. Authorities will only permit passengers to fly if they comply with their destination countries' entry criteria and requirements. Only Emirati nationals and residents will be allowed to return to the UAE. Travelers to the UAE must first receive approval from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship. Upon arrival, all residents will undergo testing for COVID-19. Residents are to stay at home until they receive their COVID-19 test. If found positive, residents must quarantine for 14 days.
- Western Sahara: Morocco's travel restrictions apply.
- Yemen: Movement and travel restrictions will likely be implemented sporadically throughout Yemen through July. The responses by the Al-Houthi rebels in northern Yemen and the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabo Mansour al-Hadi in southern Yemen have been disjointed, with communication on efforts limited. The ongoing conflict in the country and recent separatist action in Aden will further complicate efforts, and conflict-related developments may also result in additional restrictions.
Countries could ease further restrictions or introduce additional restrictions, depending on the disease activity in the coming days and weeks.
Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the governments are similar to actions taken by other governments globally in recent days 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.