Severity: Warning Alert

Entry/Exit: Russia will close land border with Poland and Norway starting 2359 March 14 to stem spread of COVID-19. Further restrictions likely.

This alert affects Russia

This alert began 14 Mar 2020 21:13 GMT and is scheduled to expire 31 Mar 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Start Time/Date: 0001 March 15
  • Impact: Entry and travel restrictions, health screenings; likely increased immigration wait times

Summary
Russian authorities announced that they would deny entry to Polish and Norwegian citizens via land borders starting at 2359 March 14. The measure is intended to stem the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The entry restriction applies to all foreigners who are passing through the border points for the purposes of tourism, school, and business. Citizens of Belarus and officials delegations are exempt from the measure.

On March 7, the Russian Department of Health stated that all travelers, regardless of nationality, were required to self-isolate at their accommodation for 14 days if they arrived from China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France, Germany, and Spain. Travelers - including transit passengers - staying for less than 14 days will be permitted to leave, though they will be required to spend the full term of their stay in their accommodation. It is unclear to what degree this order will be enforced, though people found in violation could face severe legal penalties.

The restriction was also in effect for travelers arriving from Switzerland, the UK, and the US March 6, though it appears to have been lifted as of March 7. These countries - as well as other locations impacted by the COVID-19 - could again be included in the restriction at short notice. The Department of Health advises that travelers confirm the status of the restrictions before traveling to the country.

The Ministry of Transport has suspended the rail route connecting Moscow to Nice, France, via Italy; further reduced rail services to Western Europe are possible. All land borders with China and Mongolia remain closed until at least April 1. Flights to and from China and Iran have been suspended indefinitely. Indefinite suspension of flights with South Korea entered into effect March 1, with the exception of Aeroflot (SU) and Korean Air (KE) flights between Moscow and Seoul, which will continue to operate. Non-Russian residents of China, Hong Kong, and Iran are not currently allowed entry into Russia.

In addition, Russia has suspended issuing visas in Iran and began restricting travel through the Iranian border from March 7. Entry will be prohibited with the exception of aircrew, official and diplomatic delegations, permanent residents of Russia, and the Eurasian Economic Union.

The Mayor of Moscow issued a decree March 10, prohibiting mass events with participation exceeding 5,000 people until April 10. This will likely mean that no demonstrations are possible until April 10.

The travel restrictions come amid the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, which originated in China's Wuhan City in Hubei Province. The purpose of the measure is to prevent the spread of the disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the virus a pandemic. As of March 14, authorities have confirmed at least 59 cases of COVID-19 in Russia.

Advice
Confirm any quarantine or self-isolation requirements before traveling to Russia. Individuals affected by the restrictions should postpone planned travel. Follow all official immigration and health screening instructions. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays.

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.

Resources
Russian Department of Health helpline (English): +7 (495) 870 4509