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Curfew to be imposed in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah amid coronavirus precautions

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On the afternoon of 13 March, the KRG Ministry of Interior issued an order for the “suspension of traffic inside both cities of Erbil and Sulaimani for 48 hours, starting from midnight.” “People should stay at home so that medical teams can do their work,” the statement quoted by local media read. These measures come after eight new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the Kurdistan Region on 13 March, including one in Erbil and seven in Sulaymaniyah.

Additional reports have indicated that in addition to earlier travel bans, Nowruz celebrations will be cancelled. All personnel illegally returning from Iran through undesignated areas should immediately contact medical teams, and failure to comply will result in quarantine and legal action. Additionally, airline passengers (Iraqi and foreign nationals) coming from 30 countries with identified virus outbreaks would be subject to quarantine, reportedly to include all the European Union as well as the United Kingdom, Serbia, Montenegro, Norway, Switzerland, Albania, and Bosnia. Additional confirmation of quarantine requirements and confirmation of intent to implement these measures is required, though anecdotal information suggests a number of hotels in Ainkawa have been designated for use as quarantine locations. Official reports indicated that these quarantines would not apply to diplomatic or official delegations.

Meanwhile, on 12 March, Erbil International Airport administration denied speculations that there were plans to close the airport due to the coronavirus outbreak. Airport Director-General Talar Fayeq and commercial adviser Andrew Jones said there were no plans to halt commercial flights thus far, and neither the Kurdistan Regional Government nor the Iraqi federal government issued such advice. As of 12 March, airlines were operating normal schedules included Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, Lufthansa, Austrian, Air Arabia, Fly Dubai, Egypt Air, Sun Express – Dusseldorf, Fly Erbil – Dusseldorf. No significant change in flight schedules has been noted as of writing. Some services were subject to cancellation for commercial reasons. Over the near term, Middle East Airlines will suspend its flights from March 16, while Lufthansa decided to cancel flight from 17 March until 24 April.
PDF of order: MoI Declaration 16 Coronavirus

To recall, on 11 March, the KRG announced a ban on non-emergency inter-provincial transit between 14-28 March. Exceptions were granted for medical teams, diplomats, humanitarian organizations, commercial interests, and emergency transit. In Sulaymaniyah, Governor Haval Abubakir ordered the suspension of public transport in the city and imposed restrictions on travel within the province. On 12 March, Dohuk Governor Farhad Atrushy announced access restrictions for non-residents, including citizens of other KR-I and Iraqi provinces as well as foreigners, with no cases of coronavirus recorded in Dohuk province thus far.

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