Bhutan maintaining ongoing COVID-19 measures as of Oct. 1. Quarantine measures, international travel restrictions continue.
Alert Begins 01 Oct 2020 03:15 PM UTC
Alert Expires 31 Oct 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Travel and business disruptions, movement controls, entry restrictions
Bhutan authorities are maintaining measures introduced to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as of Oct. 1. Officials are permitting businesses to operate through 2100 daily, restaurants are allowed to operate dine-in services with 50-percent customer capacity, and authorities are allowing interdistrict transport of people and goods, albeit with prior permission. All vehicles can operate with a maximum of 50-percent passenger load. Authorities have permitted sports facilities to operate at 50-percent capacity. School classes for higher grade classes have resumed.
Authorities have classified areas adjacent to international boundaries as high-risk zones. In such zones, residents must stay home and obtain movement passes for essential outdoor activity; only essential businesses will function. Entry and exit controls are in place. The following nationwide rules will apply for domestic travelers:
- Between low-risk zones: online registration is compulsory; such registration may also be done at transport hubs like bus stations or checkposts.
- From low-risk to high-risk zones: travel is prohibited unless authorities in destination sites give permission for entry.
- Between high-risk zones: no quarantine is necessary for asymptomatic passengers.
- From high-risk to low-risk zones: travelers must undergo a mandatory seven-day quarantine at the point of origin, followed by a COVID-19 test. Passengers on emergency trips may skip quarantine and may travel immediately after testing; they will be subject to monitoring.
Other nationwide measures will continue until further notice. Wearing facemasks in public is compulsory. Contact sports and social gatherings remain prohibited. Authorities are advising residents to stay home and to use delivery services to the extent possible.
Bhutanese authorities continue to ban entry for foreigners through air and land borders. The rules affect foreigners with any form of visa, work permit, or immigration permit, as well as those carrying diplomatic, official, and international organization passports. Authorities are allowing foreign nationals to exit Bhutan. International flights to and from Bhutan remain severely limited due to travel restrictions on Bhutanese citizens and carriers, as well as border closures. Limited flights resumed between Thailand and Bhutan July 14, though flight schedules are subject to change at short notice. Bhutanese air carriers such as Druk Air (KB) and Bhutan Airlines (B3) are operating limited flights, mainly for repatriating Bhutanese citizens. All returnees are required to undergo a 21-day quarantine after repatriation. Authorities are advising citizens against nonessential travel. Bhutanese nationals are required to register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thimphu before traveling abroad.
Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments 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.
Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm business appointments, deliveries, work, and travel arrangements. Do not check out of accommodation without confirming onward travel. 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. Ensure access to essential items. Carry proper identification documents, heed all security advisories.
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.