Muslims will observe Ramadan, a month of fasting and religious dedication, beginning Thursday, April 23, or Friday, April 24, depending on the moon. Ramadan will last until late May, likely between Saturday, May 23, to Sunday, May 24, and culminate with Eid al-Fitr celebrations. While the month typically sees disruptions to businesses, schools, government offices, and restaurants, the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak has produced mass closures of non-essential businesses and services in most countries. Grocery stores and other essential shops that remain open may, however, operate on reduced hours during Ramadan. Diplomatic missions may also have adjusted schedules.
Where these services are still operating, transportation disruptions are also expected during this period. Increased movement is possible around sundown in countries where lockdowns or curfews are not implemented due the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, as observers gather for nightly festivities and to break their fast. Increased security measures are also likely in order to ensure compliance with COVID-19-related restrictions and due to a heightened terror threat in some parts of the region.
Ramadan is a month of reflection and self-restraint for Muslims and carries great significance in the Muslim calendar. Muslims traditionally fast during daylight hours and are called to practice increased devotion and prayer. More generally, this period also marks an increase in the regional terror threat in many Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
Individuals in the Middle East and North Africa are advised to avoid eating, drinking, and smoking in public during the day and anticipate significant disruptions to business and government schedules. Travelers during this period are advised to allow additional time to reach their destination and avoid any forms of public gatherings or demonstrations. All are invited to respect local COVID-19 restrictions.
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