Severity: Warning Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities in Gaza extend the 24-hour curfew in several governates until further notice due to coronavirus disease.

Alert Begins 01 Sep 2020 08:18 PM UTC
Alert Expires 30 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Territorywide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions; increased security

Summary
Authorities in the Gaza Strip have extended the existing 24-hour curfew in the North Gaza and Gaza Governorates until further notice as part of the territory’s efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The 24-hour curfew has been extended in the Khan Yunis and Rafah Governorates until at least Sept. 3. The Al-Sultan and Al-Saudi neighborhoods in the Rafah Governorate are exempt from the measure, and residents are permitted to travel outside their home from 0800-2000, provided that they do not leave those specific areas. Protective face coverings and adherence to social-distancing precautions are required in public. Gazan authorities stated they are continuing to monitor the epidemiological situation and will update restrictive measures in accordance with disease activity.

The 24-hour curfew was initially imposed across the territory on late Aug. 24 following confirmation of Gaza’s first public outbreak of COVID-19. Previously, Gaza had no reported COVID-19 cases outside of government-run quarantine facilities for residents returning from abroad. All travelers arriving in Gaza are required to quarantine at government-run facilities for 21 days. Nonessential businesses, schools, mosques, and cafes throughout Gaza are closed for the duration of the curfew. Residents are instructed to remain at home unless shopping for essential goods.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) previously lifted some restrictions on business activity and gatherings in the West Bank amid a gradual easing of measures related to COVID-19. All businesses are permitted to operate on Fridays and Saturdays, provided they adhere to public health mandates issued by the Ministry of Health. Prior to the move, all nonessential businesses were required to close on weekends from 2100 each Thursday evening until the following Sunday morning. Furthermore, Friday prayers are permitted in public squares, albeit with public health precautions, including mandatory protective face coverings and social distancing.

Authorities permitted cafes, restaurants, sports clubs, and gyms to reopen at 50-percent capacity in the West Bank beginning in early August. Businesses may operate from 0700 until 2359 daily unless authorities have designated otherwise. However, all social gatherings, including weddings, funerals, conferences, and graduation parties, remain banned throughout the West Bank until further notice. Border crossings with Israel remain closed. Authorities are continuing to monitor the epidemiological situation throughout the territory and will enact localized lockdowns on locations with increased COVID-19 activity. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has extended the West Bank's state of emergency through at least Sept. 4 as part of the territory's efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19.

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 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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