Severity: Warning Alert

Exit/Entry: Palestinian Authority announces a lockdown of the West Bank from July 3-7 due to COVID-19 activity. All nonessential travel prohibited.

  • Alert Begins: 01 Jul 2020 09:12 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 31 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Event: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Territorywide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions; increased security

Summary
The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Ministry of Health announced that it will impose a lockdown on all West Bank towns and governorates from July 3 through July 7 in an effort to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The announcement follows a surge in recorded cases in the West Bank over recent weeks. Authorities stated that the measure may be extended depending on the evolution of disease activity. All businesses except for grocery stores and pharmacies will close for the duration of the measure. All non-essential travel in the West Bank will be prohibited.

All social gatherings, including weddings, funerals, conferences, and graduation parties, are banned throughout the West Bank until further notice. All businesses are required to adhere to strict public health precautions and those that fail to comply will be closed by authorities. Additionally, violators of COVID-19 restrictions will be subject to legal ramifications. Authorities stated that the majority of new COVID-19 cases have stemmed from movement between the West Bank and Israel. Border crossings into Israel closed to Palestinian workers June 30 and will remain closed until further notice. Palestinian workers located in Israel will be permitted to return to the West Bank beginning July 16.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas previously extended the existing state of emergency in the West Bank until July 4. The state of emergency was initially declared on March 5. Authorities in the West Bank had eased restrictions related to COVID-19 in late May following a significant reduction in cases throughout the territory. Businesses, restaurants, and places of worship throughout the West Bank were permitted to reopen May 26, provided they meet certain public health requirements. Government ministries and courts throughout the territory resumed normal operations on May 27. Authorities allowed intercity travel and public transportation to resume from May 27.

The Gaza Strip closed its borders to all arrivals through at least June 30; the closure followed an earlier surge in confirmed cases of COVID-19 among returnees from Egypt and Israel. Authorities reopened restaurants in the Gaza Strip beginning April 27; however, the establishments must maintain precautionary measures such as safe social distancing and regular sterilization of communal spaces. Mosques reopened from May 22 with similar precautionary measures. Nursery schools reopened June 3.

Background and Analysis
The Palestinian Territories' 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.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. 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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