Severity: Warning Alert
Exit/Entry: Restrictions in place throughout MENA region through at least Sept. 30 due to COVID-19. Confirm flights and business appointments.
Alert Begins 16 Sep 2020 04:27 AM UTC
Alert Expires 15 Oct 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
Restrictions intended to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will remain in effect in countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region through at least Sept. 30. 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: Authorities allowed citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, electronic visa holders, and travelers eligible for visas on arrival to enter the country from Sept. 4.
- Egypt: Air traffic at all of the nation's airports resumed July 1. All modes of public transport have resumed operations.
- Iran: Authorities have lifted most COVID-19 restrictions; however, they intermittently impose sanctions on cities and areas where there is a sudden uptick in the number of cases.
- Iraq: Authorities in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have lifted the ban on travel between the region's governorates, and with the rest of Iraq, as of Aug. 24. The measure is a part of regulations to ease COVID-19 restrictions. The region's border crossings with Iran remain closed to tourists but are open for commercial purposes. Airports in the region reopened Aug. 1. All outbound and inbound travelers at airports in the KRG must prove that they tested negative for COVID-19 48 hours before the flight. Outbound passengers who wish to take the COVID-19 test must arrive at government-designated clinics with passports, face coverings, and at least IQD 100,000 (USD 84); authorities will only accept Iraqi currency for payment. Test results are likely to arrive within 24-48 hours. Travelers intending to take the test at the airport for outbound flights may face delays. All arrivals are required to quarantine for at least 14 days. Authorities will exempt officials, business travelers, and tourists on a short stay. In the rest of Iraq, authorities extended the nationwide daily 2200-0500 until further notice.
- Israel: Authorities extended their existing entry ban for nonresident foreign nationals through at least Oct. 1. Israel's flag carrier El Al Airlines (LY) has extended its suspension of regular passenger flights until Sept. 30. Cargo and emergency flights remain unaffected. The Ministry of Health has exempted Israeli citizens and residents returning from certain countries with low COVID-19 infection rates from the nation's mandatory 14-day quarantine beginning Aug. 16.
- Jordan: Authorities resumed international commercial flights at Queen Alia International Airport (AMM) Sept. 8. Authorities have classified countries according to COVID-19 activity, with green denoting low activity, yellow denoting moderate activity, and red denoting high activity. Instructions for travelers will vary according to the classification of their country of origin. All travelers must have spent the 14 days before travel in the country they are departing from and will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours of their scheduled flight. Travelers will be tested again at their own expense upon arrival in Jordan.
- Kuwait: All commercial flights to and from Kuwait resumed Aug. 1.
- Lebanon: Travelers at Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY) must provide negative results of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test before entering the country. Travelers from countries with high infection rates will undergo 24-48 hours of quarantine in designated hotels until they receive their test results.
- Libya: Movement and travel restrictions will likely be implemented sporadically throughout Libya through September. The response to COVID-19 has been disjointed to date, and communication concerning efforts limited.
- Morocco: Authorities reopened the country's borders to authorized business visitors Sept. 10. The term "authorized business visitor" is defined as a traveler who has received an invitation from a Moroccan company to travel to the country and who has confirmed hotel reservations. 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 will permit the resumption of international passenger flights from Oct. 1. All flights will be subject to governmental approval. Anyone entering Oman must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine period. Domestic flights between Muscat and Musandam Governorate are still operating.
- Palestinian Territories: Authorities have extended the existing state of emergency through Oct. 4 to combat COVID-19. All businesses will be permitted to operate on Fridays and Saturdays, provided they adhere to public health precautions issued by the Ministry of Health. Border crossings to the West Bank and Gaza Strip are closed to commercial traffic until further notice.
- Qatar: Qatari authorities began the initial steps of Phase 4 of their plan to lift the country's COVID-19 restrictions from Sept. 1. Measures under the first part include allowing more inbound flights from low-risk countries. Arrivals from low-risk countries must take a COVID-19 test and undergo a one-week quarantine. Authorities have also resumed public transport and metro services at 30 percent capacity.
- Saudi Arabia: Authorities began to lift restrictions on international travel partially starting 0600 Sept. 15. Authorities will permit citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to enter and exit the kingdom. Non-Saudi nationals with valid exit and re-entry visas, work visas, residency permits, or visit visas will be allowed entry. Authorities will also permit government and military employees, diplomatic workers, businesspeople, people studying abroad, and those who require medical treatment abroad to travel. All travelers must provide proof of having tested negative for COVID-19 48 hours before their arrival. All arrivals will be tested for COVID-19 and be subject to a mandatory 7-day quarantine period. All arriving passengers must complete a health disclaimer form and submit it to authorities upon arrival. Additionally, arrivals must download and register on the "Tataman" and "Tawakkalna" applications. Officials plan to lift all air, land, and sea travel restrictions for Saudi citizens Jan. 1, 2021.
- Syria: Authorities have lifted most COVID-19 restrictions; however, they intermittently impose sanctions on cities and areas where there is a sudden uptick in the number of cases.
- Tunisia: Tunisia's land, air, and sea borders reopened June 27.
- United Arab Emirates: Emirates Airlines (EK) and Etihad Airways (EY) are operating multiple regular, nonrepatriation flights to several locations in Europe, North America, and Australia. Authorities will only permit passengers to fly if they comply with their destination countries' entry criteria and requirements. Dubai began accepting international tourists July 7. Tourists must obtain a negative COVID-19 test obtained 96 hours before departure.
- Western Sahara: Morocco's travel restrictions apply.
- Yemen: Movement and travel restrictions will likely be implemented sporadically throughout Yemen through September. 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.