Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Turkmenistan extends international and domestic travel restrictions through at least Oct. 1 to combat spread of COVID-19.
Alert Begins 02 Sep 2020 10:37 AM UTC
Alert Expires 01 Oct 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Period: Indefinite
- Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions
Authorities have extended the suspension of international flights until at least Sept. 30 and domestic rail services until at least Oct. 1 as part of their strategy to combat coronavirus disease (COVID-19). All land borders with Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan remain closed indefinitely. Passenger ferry services remain suspended at the International Seaport of Turkmenistan at Turkmenbashi. Only Turkmen nationals, permanent residents, diplomats, and workers in key industries and infrastructure are permitted to enter the country; all arrivals must reportedly undergo a 14-day quarantine in a state-run facility. While freight traffic is generally allowed to transit the border, Turkmen authorities have previously restricted cross-border freight traffic without warning or explanation. All persons departing the country must be in possession of a negative COVID-19 test certificate, signed within the previous 24 hours.
Domestic flights are operating on a significantly reduced schedule. Security forces have erected checkpoints on roads entering Ashgabat; however, residents no longer require permits to enter the city, though they may be subject to a health screening. Checkpoints have also been reported on highways in Balkan, Mary, Lebap, and Dashoguz provinces, where health screenings have been carried out. Special permits are no longer required to travel within or between provinces.
Shopping malls, entertainment venues, leisure facilities, cultural venues, houses of worship, and sports facilities remain closed indefinitely. Restaurants and cafes may open for deliveries only. Educational institutions have been permitted to reopen since Sept. 1 provided strict anti-COVID-19 measures are maintained. Authorities have permitted a few long-distance rail services due to the start of the school year; however, students must present documentary evidence that they have cleared a health screening within the previous 72 hours. Additionally, while there is no official ban on public gatherings, authorities in Ashgabat have deactivated ATMs in shopping centers and semi-enclosed market areas, including the Terkinsky bazaar, to prevent crowds congregating. It remains mandatory to maintain a social distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) and wear a protective face covering in public.
Authorities could impose further restrictions based on disease activity in the country.
Background and Analysis
The measures are in place despite the government’s denial that COVID-19 is present in the country. Turkmenistan's preventative restrictions largely correspond with similar actions other governments are taking globally in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 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.
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.