Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Turkmenistan extends nationwide business and movement restrictions July 22 to prevent spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

  • Alert Begins: 22 Jul 2020 02:21 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 31 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: Movement restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Period: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions

Authorities have extended the effective duration of movement restrictions as of July 22. The extension has come despite the fact that Turkmenistan continues to deny the presence of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country. International flights are suspended through Aug. 31. Regional rail services are suspended until July 31. Shopping malls, entertainment venues, leisure facilities, cultural venues, houses of worship, and sports facilities are closed nationwide until at least Aug. 1. Restaurants and cafes may remain open for deliveries only. Additionally, authorities in Ashgabat have deactivated ATMs in shopping centers and semi-enclosed market areas, including the Terkinsky bazaar, to prevent crowds gathering. It remains mandatory to maintain a social distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) and wear a facemask in public.

Other travel restrictions remain in effect. All land borders with Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan remain closed indefinitely. While freight traffic is generally allowed to transit the border, Turkmen authorities have previously restricted cross-border freight traffic without warning or explanation. The Turkmenbashi International Seaport is also closed to passenger traffic. Security forces have erected checkpoints on roads entering Ashgabat; only freight and goods vehicles with permits are permitted to pass. All national, intercity, and regional highways are closed to all persons, except special permit holders and emergency services. Security force checkpoints have also been reported on highways in Balkan, Mary, Lebap, and Dashoguz provinces. Individuals are not permitted to leave their districts of residence without a permit.

Authorities could impose further restrictions based on disease activity in the country.

Background and Analysis
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.

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