In Kazakhstan, authorities continue to ease or tighten localized restrictions in response to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity as of Oct. 21. In Nur-Sultan, persons over the age of 65 are prohibited from visiting libraries, theaters, and museums. Public events, sporting events, weddings, and mass rallies are banned. Additionally, to reduce rush-hour demand, public transport operating hours will be extended to 0600-2300, and will not operate on Sundays. In Almaty, catering establishments may only operate 0800-2200 and may not seat more than 30 patrons. Shopping centers may not exceed 20-percent capacity. Grocery stores may remain open until 2200, while other retailers must close by 1800, and may not exceed 20-percent capacity. Public transport will not operate on Sundays. Public events, including weddings, may not exceed 10 participants. Recreational and cultural facilities, such as cinemas, nightclubs, and bowling alleys, may not operate on weekends.
Quarantine measures were previously extended until Oct. 26 in Shymkent. Under the quarantine regime, markets and fairs may only operate 0600-1800, and indoor markets may not operate on weekends and public holidays. However, playgrounds and food courts in the city may now open. Stricter measures have also been introduced in North Kazakhstan Region. Indoor markets, retailers, shopping centers, catering establishments, leisure facilities, and numerous other nonessential businesses must close on holidays and weekends. Public transport is suspended on holidays and weekends. Finally, persons are prohibited from entering or exiting the cities of Bulayevo, Mamlyutka, and Yavlenka; inter-city and regional public transport services have been suspended.
Authorities continue to maintain international travel restrictions. However, flights with several countries have resumed, including Belarus, Egypt, Germany, South Korea, Kyrgyzstan, the Netherlands, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, and Uzbekistan, though capacity is likely to be limited. Authorities announced a reduction in flights with Germany, the UAE, Belarus, and Ukraine from Oct. 24; the exact reduction level is unclear. Most arrivals, including Kazakh nationals, must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before their arrival in Kazakhstan. These restrictions do not apply to diplomats, aircrews, train crews, ship crews, and cross-border workers; however, freight truck drivers must now provide a negative test. Returning Kazakh nationals who do not produce a negative test upon arrival will be tested and placed in quarantine for at least two days; symptomatic individuals will be hospitalized, while asymptomatic individuals must self-isolate for a further 12 days.
Public transportation and nonessential businesses are operating in much of Kazakhstan, including shopping centers, retailers, covered markets, salons, and restaurants; all establishments must operate at reduced capacity, enforce social distancing, and provide hand sanitizer. Residents may exercise in groups of no more than five people. Authorities continue to recommend that establishments allow employees to work from home. Residents must wear protective facemasks and practice social distancing at all times while in public. Additionally, persons over 65 years of age are not permitted to leave their accommodation except in an emergency.
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
The restrictive measures taken by Kazakhstan are similar to actions taken by other governments in the region 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.
Check access requirements if traveling to major cities, minimize movement within any quarantined zones; allow additional time for travel. Reconfirm all flights and business appointments. 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. Prepare for freight delivery disruptions. Consider delaying or detouring goods. 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.