As of Oct. 15, Gambian authorities have maintained certain restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The related nationwide state of emergency expired Sept. 17.

Domestic Measures
Authorities ended the nationwide nightly curfew Sept. 18 and all markets have been allowed to operate 0600-1800 following the edict's expiration. Nonessential shops can also resume regular operations. However, other nonessential business closures, including restaurants, bars, pubs, night clubs, music lounges, casinos, cinemas, gyms, remain in place. Nonessential public gatherings, such as sporting events, remain banned; limited religious gatherings are permitted provided health protocols are adhered to. The use of protective facemasks is mandatory in public spaces.

International Travel
Gambia's land, air, and sea borders remain closed until further notice; the measure does not apply to freight or security personnel. International commercial flights remain suspended, though emergency and cargo services can continue to operate. All arriving passengers to the Gambia must provide a negative test certificate taken up to 72 hours before arrival; travelers without this certificate face a 14-day mandatory quarantine in government-run facilities.

Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.

 

Background and Analysis
Gambian authorities have eased the country's restrictions as local transmission rates have reportedly stabilized. Gambia's restrictions are similar to actions taken by other governments globally in recent months 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.

 

Advice
Reconfirm all travel plans. Follow all official directives. Abide by national health and safety measures. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation.

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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