Severity: Warning Alert

Exit/Entry: Pakistan continues to ease COVID-19-related restrictions, with regional variations, as of Sept. 15. Some schools allowed to reopen.

Alert Begins 15 Sep 2020 08:39 PM UTC
Alert Expires 29 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Increased security, transport and business disruptions; possible protests

Summary
While many restrictions have been lifted, Pakistani authorities are continuing some measures aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as of Sept. 15. Some schools have been allowed to reopen, albeit with social distancing measures in effect. Nationwide social-distancing measures continue; officials require individuals to wear protective face coverings and practice social distancing in public. Local governments are allowed to ban nonessential activity and movement in identified high-risk areas; any such localized restrictions will typically last from 7-14 days but may be extended depending on the public health situation. Public and private transport services have resumed nationwide, though seating restrictions continue at the provincial and local level in some areas. Authorities have resumed domestic and international flights from all airports, although flight availability remains restricted due to decreased demand and restrictions on travel from Pakistan imposed by foreign countries. Regional variations in rules are likely to continue; reports indicate generally poor adherence to and enforcement of guidelines across the nation.

Transport operations and commercial activity have resumed, albeit with social-distancing measures. All businesses, including shopping malls, dine-in eateries, and hospitality services are open on all days except in Sindh Province, where nonessential businesses except eateries must close by 2000 on weekdays and close for a mandatory weekly holiday on Fridays or Saturdays. Marriage halls are allowed to reopen in Punjab, Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.

Travel Restrictions
Authorities have permitted the resumption of international passenger flight operations at all international airports in the country as of Sept. 15. However, flights are severely restricted in number and routes due to low demand and travel restrictions imposed by foreign countries on Pakistani citizens and air carriers . Cargo, charter, and repatriation flights are also operational. All incoming travelers to the country, including Pakistani nationals, must self-isolate for two weeks if they have no COVID-19 symptoms. Symptomatic passengers are mandated to undergo testing and a 14-day quarantine at home, paid accommodation, or in a medical facility, based on health assessments.

Land border crossings with Iran and Afghanistan are open for trade - mainly of essential goods - and exchange of stranded citizens. However, cargo transit continues facing intermittent disruptions, mainly along the Afghan border due to protests over the permitted number of vehicles and passage of people. The Attari-Wagah border with India remains closed, except for repatriation and transit trade with Afghanistan. Suspension of bus and train services between India and Pakistan will continue until further notice.

Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government are similar to actions taken by other regional governments 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.

Advice
Confirm travel arrangements. Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all business appointments, deliveries, and travel arrangements. 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. Avoid all large gatherings; heed security and traffic advisories.

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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