Severity: Warning Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities in the West Bank, Palestinian Territories, plan to reimpose COVID-19 restrictions during Eid al-Adha from July 31-Aug. 2.

  • Alert Begins: 29 Jul 2020 07:43 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 31 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Territorywide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions; increased security

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. Authorities did not specify exact start and end times for the measure. Only pharmacies and bakeries will be permitted to operate; all other nonessential businesses and institutions must close for the duration of the measure. Palestinian worshippers will be permitted to conduct Eid prayers in public yards and squares provided that the prayers do not exceed 15 minutes; however, worshippers must wear face masks and observe adequate social distancing. Until July 31, shops will be permitted to operate until 2359 daily.

After the Eid al-Adha holiday, the prohibition of travel between West Bank governorates will continue until further notice. Furthermore, authorities stated that they will continue to enact localized lockdowns on COVID-19 hotspots. All social gatherings, including weddings, funerals, conferences, and graduation parties, are banned throughout the West Bank until further notice. All businesses must adhere to strict public health precautions, and authorities will shut down those that fail to comply. Additionally, violators of COVID-19 restrictions will be subject to legal ramifications. Border crossings with Israel closed to Palestinian workers June 30 and will remain shut until further notice. Palestinian workers in Israel were permitted to return to the West Bank beginning July 16.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas previously extended the territory's state of emergency through at least Aug. 3. Authorities in the West Bank had earlier eased restrictions in late May following a significant reduction in COVID-19 cases throughout the territory. Businesses, restaurants, and places of worship throughout the West Bank reopened May 26, provided they met certain public health requirements. Government ministries and courts resumed normal operations May 27; intercity travel and public transportation also resumed the same day. Authorities, however, reimposed restrictions, July 3, in response to increased COVID-19 infection rates.

In the Gaza Strip, authorities reopened restaurants beginning April 27; however, establishments must maintain precautionary measures such as safe social distancing and regular sterilization of communal spaces. Mosques reopened from May 22 with similar measures.

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.

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