July 28, 2021 | tourism

Tourists visiting Kurdistan must be vaccinated or tested: KRG


ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Tourists will not be allowed into the Kurdistan Region if they are not vaccinated or carrying a negative coronavirus test, in new restrictions announced by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Tuesday to curb record high infection rates.

Tourists with tests that are older than 48 hours will not be permitted into the Region, and any travel agency that issues fake tests will be banned from the Kurdistan Region, the KRG announced.

More than 302,000 tourists visited Erbil, Sulaimani and Halabja for the Eid al-Adha holiday last week, according to provincial data.

The Kurdistan Region’s crisis cell met on Tuesday and announced a number of restrictions, including mandatory vaccination and masks for public sector employees. Employees of mosques, malls, stores, restaurants, cafeterias, hotels and motels also must get vaccinated or have tests no older than 72 hours.

Wedding halls and cinemas were ordered closed on July 19, but mosques, swimming pools and sports venues remain open with health measures in place.

The Kurdistan Region’s health ministry on Monday called for a full or partial lockdown as numbers of new coronavirus infections dramatically surged. More than 3,550 cases were recorded in a single day on Monday, the highest since the start of the pandemic. Most are the more contagious Delta variant.

Iraq also announced record high numbers of new cases this week – more than 12,000 new infections and 71 deaths registered on Tuesday.

Kurdistan Region is considered a medium-risk orange zone while Iraq is in the more severe red zone, but that could change with the Delta variant, which spreads faster and causes severe infections among young people and children. Health officials have warned of a devastating effect of the recent upsurge as hospitals and health centers are witnessing an overcrowding of patients and an increase in critical cases.

In the Kurdistan Region, nine percent of the population has received the first jab of vaccine and five percent have gotten the second dose, Minister of Health Saman Barzinji said earlier this month.

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