Travel restrictions and curfews continue to be tightened across northern Iraq as authorities attempt to halt the spread of coronavirus. Although previously discussed curfews and restrictions remain in place, further measures were announced on 22 March. According to the statement released by the KRG Ministry of Interior, the lockdown in the KR-I has been extended until 1 April. Individuals have to remain in their residences and are only allowed to leave in order to purchase daily necessities and in cases of emergency. In addition, previously permissible travel between midnight and dawn is now banned, as the slight relaxation of movement restrictions was abused by some citizens for recreational purposes.
A total curfew will now be in place across the KR-I between midnight and 6:00. Additionally, local reporting indicated that these restrictions were applicable to pedestrians, who were being ordered to return to their houses. Further clarification is required on the exact extent of these new measures and updates will be provided in future reports. On 22 March, Sulaymaniyah Governor Haval Abu Bakr stated that security forces would pursue those violating the curfew which applies to both pedestrians and vehicles.
On the afternoon of 22 March, the Iraqi Crisis Cell announced that curfews and other precautionary measures should remain in place at least until 28 March. This is to include the ban on international flights, initially imposed for the period between 17-24 March, which has been extended until 28 March and subject to further review.
Elsewhere in northern Iraq similar measures were announced on 21 March, when the Salah ad Din Governor’s office issued a statement announcing a complete closure of checkpoints leading to the province. All traffic, including oil and food transports as well as security forces will be prevented from transiting between provinces with similar measures announced for Kirkuk province. In addition, all fuel stations in Kirkuk will be closed until further notice. These are the most comprehensive lockdowns enforced in northern Iraq thus far, with similar measures anticipated in the coming weeks across the region as the virus continues to spread.
The restrictions and curfews are being actively enforced with a number of fines and vehicle seizures reported across the region. On 21 March, according to social media reports, Asayish and police forces dispersed gatherings and handed out fines on the main road near the Lawan City compound and areas near the compound in Erbil city. A number of gatherings in the Rania region were also dispersed with individuals ordered to return home. On 22 March, Erbil Traffic Police Spokesperson, Fadhil Haji stated that a total of 1,838 vehicle registry papers, 172 cars and 29 other vehicles were seized due to violations of the curfew imposed in Erbil province.