Severity: Warning Alert
Exit/Entry: Restrictions in place throughout MENA region until at least Aug. 15 due to COVID-19. Confirm flights and business appointments.
- Alert Begins: 29 Jul 2020 08:02 PM UTC
- Alert Expires: 15 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 Aug. 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 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: Commercial flights resumed July 23. The border crossings of al-Munzariyah and al-Shaib with Iran, and Safwan with Kuwait, also reopened July 23. All travel between governorates is banned. The Federal Government of Iraq plans to impose a nationwide 24-hour daily curfew, July 30-Aug. 9. The curfew coincides with the Eid al-Adha holiday due to take place July 31-Aug. 3. Officials added that they would review the curfew after the holiday.
- Israel: Authorities in Israel have extended the nationwide entry ban on foreign nationals until Sept. 1. Israeli residents are permitted to return to Israel but are subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Israel's flag carrier El Al Airlines (LY) has extended its suspension of regular passenger flights until at least Aug. 31.
- Jordan: All land borders and seaports are closed until further notice. Travel between governorates has resumed. Authorities have reduced the nationwide daily curfew to 0100-0600. Authorities will permit international commercial flights from certain approved countries to resume at airports nationwide beginning Aug. 5. The countries on the approved travel list, which the government in Amman has compiled based on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity data, are Austria, Canada, China, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Thailand. Authorities may update or change the list of countries over the coming weeks.
- Kuwait: All commercial flights to and from Kuwait remain suspended until July 31.
- Lebanon: Commercial flights at Beirut International Airport (BEY) resumed July 1, albeit with a reduced operating capacity of 10 percent, compared to July 2019. Private flights to and from BEY resumed June 24. Passengers will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival and notified of their test result within 24 hours. In the event of a positive test result, affected travelers will need to self-quarantine per instructions from the Ministry of Health. Nonresidents traveling to Lebanon are required to have a valid health insurance policy for the duration of their trip.
- 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: Authorities in the West Bank announced plans to reimpose restrictions during the Eid al-Adha holiday as part of the territory’s efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). From the morning of July 31 to the morning of Aug. 2, all travel between governorates in the West Bank will be 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 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 prior to departure.
- 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.