Severity: Warning Alert
Entry/Exit: West Bank authorities announce businesses, restaurants, and places of worship to reopen May 26 amid an easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
The locations affected by this alert are:
- Palestinian Territories
- Gaza City
This alert began 25 May 2020 21:00 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.
- Event: Restrictions
- Location(s): Territorywide (map)
- Time Frame: Through June 30
- Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions; increased security
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced that businesses, restaurants, and places of worship throughout the West Bank will reopen May 26, provided they meet certain public health requirements, amid an easing of restrictions related to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Worshipers at mosques and churches will be required to wear protective face coverings and adhere to social distancing regulations. Government ministries and courts throughout the territory will resume normal operations on May 27. Authorities will also remove traffic checkpoints on May 27 to allow intercity travel and public transportation to resume. Additionally, schools will reopen in the coming days, although a precise date has not yet been announced.
The easing of restrictions in the West Bank follows a significant reduction in confirmed COVID-19 cases throughout the territory. However, the Palestinian Authority (PA) could reimpose restrictions depending on the evolution of disease activity in the coming days and weeks. The state of emergency in the West Bank will remain in effect until June 5. Authorities had previously permitted the resumption of limited business activity in West Bank governorates without COVID-19 cases.
The Gaza Strip's borders will remain closed to all arrivals through June 30; the closure followed an earlier surge in confirmed cases of COVID-19 among returnees from Egypt and Israel. Authorities reopened restaurants in the Gaza Strip beginning April 27; however, the establishments must maintain precautionary measures such as safe social distancing and regular sterilization of communal spaces. Mosques reopened from May 22 with similar precautionary measures. Schools and wedding halls remain closed in Gaza.
Background and Analysis
The Palestinian Territories' travel restrictions and preventive measures are similar to actions other governments are taking globally 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.
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.