All Nepal flights cancelled 22-31 March

In an address to nation on Friday evening, Nepal’s Prime Minister K P Oli announced further restrictions on travel, including a ban on all international flights between 22-31 March.

The prime minister, who himself is recovering from a second kidney transplant two weeks ago, also said all long-distance public buses within Nepal would stop operating from 23 March for an indefinite period.

In an address that many had speculated would announce a nationwide lockdown, Oli also exhorted Nepalis not to hold large gatherings and to restrict all non-essential movement.

On Wednesday Nepal had already announced the stoppage of all passengers arriving by air from Europe and West Asia, including transit passengers. But that ban did not include airlines flying to Chinese and Indian cities, Bangkok and Singapore from Kathmandu. Now, even those flights will stop operating from Sunday.

The flight restriction coincides with India also announcing a ban on all international flights for the same time period. While inter-city bus routes are going to stop from Monday, Oli did not mention a ban on domestic flights within Nepal.

From clockwise: Devotees in Jame Masjid don mask for their Friday prayers. Amidst COVID-19 scare people in Kathmandu stock up on face masks. Ticket counter in Gongabu buspark is crowded with people trying to buy tickets to leave for their villages. Local organisations and students raise awareness about hand washing and coronavirus pandemic. Photos: BIKRAM RAI

Oli also said there would be special health surveillance at the only four border checkpoints that are allowed between India and Nepal. The prime minister also issued a strong warning to hoarders and black marketeers who create artificial shortages.

“I am aware of the difficulties faced by Nepalis abroad about returning home, I ask them to keep in touch with our diplomatic missions abroad,” Oli said in the live tv broadcast from his residence in Baluwatar.

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