Travel to Africa and the Middle East: A Reopening Timeline, Country by Country

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As of June 9, Africa, a continent of more than two billion people, has had 3,462 deaths from COVID-19 . The novel coronavirus has cropped up in every country across the continent, with the largest outbreak centered in South Africa, where there are more than 52,000 cases. Most countries across the continent have imposed strict lockdown procedures and travel bans, closing their borders to all except for returning citizens and permanent residents. In the Middle East, countries like Iran have been hit the hardest, with smaller outbreaks in the United Arab Emirates, Israel, and elsewhere across the region. Read on for a country-by-country listing of how many countries in Africa and the Middle East are handling border security, lockdowns, and more. 

Botswana

Botswana currently has a travel ban on all foreign travelers entering the country (not applicable to residents) . The Gaborone capital zone lifted its extreme social distancing policy on June 16, and permits are required to travel between zones. The official government Twitter posts frequent updates about the circumstances.

Egypt

International flights to Egypt will resume on July 1, though foreign tourists may only visit the South Sinai, Red Sea, and Matrouh provinces. Hotels and resorts have begun operating at 50 percent capacity since early June. Curfew is from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. through June 28.

Israel

Foreign travelers are not permitted to enter Israel as of March 18 . Citizens and residents of the country are allowed to return. Still, they are subject to a health screening, and they must prove that they can self-quarantine for 14 days in a private residence, or instead, isolate in an official government quarantine center . The borders with Egypt and Jordan have also been closed.

Kenya

All international flights to and from Kenya are suspended, except for flights arriving to vacate foreigners. Anyone arriving must quarantine at a government facility for 14 days on their own dime . (The country’s quarantine centers have been criticized for unsanitary conditions, extreme measures, and unanticipated fees.) Within the country, there’s a nationwide curfew from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., and a 30-day ban on social and political gatherings was issued on June 6.

Morocco

Morocco’s state of emergency has been extended through July 10 . At this time, travel is not permitted, and all commercial flights to the country have been suspended. Several governments chartered repatriation flights for stranded citizens. On March 17, 2020, the Moroccan government stated that travelers stuck in the country for greater than 90 days would not be penalized for overstays upon leaving. 

Mozambique

Mozambique is in a Level-3 state of emergency through June 30 , and international flights are currently suspended. Beaches, museums, theaters, libraries, bars, pools, and gyms are all closed. If you do enter the country, the Mozambican government has mandated a 14-day self-quarantine, regardless of citizenship. Visas, even if expired, are extended through June 30, 2020 .

Namibia

While points of entry are closed, Namibia is planning to "conduct a targeted International revival initiative," starting July 15. Anyone who enters the country must take a COVID-19 PCR test and undergo quarantine. Most regions will be in Stage 4 from June 30 through September 17. Follow the Namibian presidency on Twitter for the latest updates.

Rwanda

As of June 16, Rwanda has reported 636 cases of COVID-19 (and two deaths) . Domestic and international tourism is limited to charter flights; borders remain closed, and returning citizens and legal residents are instructed to self-quarantine for seven days. Curfew is from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., and masks are required. On May 4, the country eased some restrictions, allowing hotels and restaurants to resume operation.

South Africa

South Africa has been at a level three alert since June 1 , with restrictions placed on many social and business activities. Coronavirus hotspots—including Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay, and Cape Town—are taking a "differentiated approach." International flights continue to be suspended, while domestic flights have resumed with limited operation .

Tanzania

Tanzania resumed international flights and removed the 14-day mandatory quarantine for new arrivals and returning residents . The government has not released the number of COVID-19 cases since April 29, and claims that the "corona disease has been eliminated." Travelers only have to undergo COVID-19 screening when leaving or entering the country. They also asked to fill out a Health Surveillance Form.

Tunisia

All land, air, and maritime borders are scheduled to reopen on June 27 . Domestic flights have resumed, and intercity and inter-region travel is permitted. Travelers entering the country must submit to a seven-day quarantine at a government facility, then a second seven-day quarantine at home or in a hotel.

Uganda

International flights—except for emergency and cargo flights—remain suspended and land borders are closed . Public transit resumed at half capacity on June 4, though it has been halted in the border districts. President Yoweri Museveni began easing business restrictions on May 5 while the country continues to enforce a strict curfew.

United Arab Emirates

UAE residents may enter the UAE with a valid permit. Emirates Airline is offering flights to/from Dubai, while Etihad Airways is only servicing Abu Dhabi. Arriving airline passengers must undergo a 14-day quarantine. Curfews are in place in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and businesses have begun to reopen.

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s borders are closed to all travelers except for returning citizens and permit holders (exceptions will be made to cargo). Anyone who enters the country must submit to a 21-day self-quarantine. A nationwide lockdown has been put into effect indefinitely.

Article Sources
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  1. World Health Organization. "External Situation Report 15." June 10, 2020.

  2. U.S. Embassy in Botswana. "COVID-19 Information." June 16, 2020.

  3. State of Israel Ministry of Health. “Frequently Asked Questions.” 

  4. U.S. Embassy in Israel. “COVID-19 Information: Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.”

  5. U.S. Embassy in Kenya. “COVID-19 Information: Kenya.” May 18, 2020

  6. U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Morocco. "Health Alert: Health State of Emergency Extended until July 10."

  7. U.S. Embassy in Mozambique. "COVID-19 Information." June 22, 2020.

  8. U.S. Embassy in Mozambique. "COVID-19 Information." May 19, 2020

  9. Republic of Namibia. "Statement by His Excellency." June 22, 2020.

  10. U.S. Embassy in Rwanda. "COVID-19 Information." June 22, 2020.

  11. U.S. Embassy & Consulates in South Africa. "COV-19 Information." June 20, 2020.

  12. Republic of South Africa. "Travel - Coronavirus Covid-19."

  13. The United Republic of Tanzania — Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children. “Travel Advisory No. 3 of 18th May, 2020.” May 18, 2020

  14. U.S. Embassy in Tunisia. "Message for U.S. Citizens." June 11, 2020.

  15. U.S. Embassy in Uganda. "Health Alert - U.S. Embassy Kampala." June 17, 2020.

  16. Federal Authority For Identity & Citizenship. "Other Services - Residents Outside UAE - Entry Permission - Issue."

  17. U.S. Embassy & Consulate in the United Arab Emirates. "COVID-19 Information. June 17, 2020.

  18. U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe. "COVID-19 Information."

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