Argentina / Jamaica / Panama (Security threat levels – 3 / 3 / 3): On 14 April 2021, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez imposed new coronavirus-related restrictions in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area due to a surge in infections that is overwhelming the city’s health care system. A nightly curfew from 2000 to 0600 local time (2300 to 0900 UTC) will commence on 16 April and remain in effect until further notice. All recreational, social, cultural, sporting and religious activities are also suspended in the city until further notice. The Federal Police, Gendarmerie, Prefecture and Airport Security Police will enforce the restrictions. Additionally, members of the military will be stationed across the city to provide COVID-19 testing and distribute hand sanitizer as well as assist with other health measures. In response to the new restrictions, residents across the city banged pots and pans in protest and demonstrators gathered outside the presidential palace (Casa Rosada). While the president did not extend the restrictions to the provinces, he recommended voluntary compliance. Notably, provincial authorities in Santa Fe province — located in northeastern Argentina — stated that the province will not comply with the new COVID-19 restrictions.
Jamaican President Andrew Holness on 13 April adjusted extended weekend curfew hours currently in place. The weekend curfew will now run from 1600 to 0500 local time (2100 to 1000 UTC) Saturday to Sunday and 1400-0500 local time from Sunday to Monday. The extended curfew hours previously included Friday, but due to an improvement in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates, the Friday curfew has been lifted. A nightly curfew from 2000 to 0500 local time remains in place for all other days. Additionally, public gatherings are limited to 10 people. The curfew is scheduled to expire on 4 May.
Panama’s minister of health on 13 April announced a loosening of curfew hours as of 19 April following a decline in the country’s COVID-19 case rate. Bars with patios and outdoor sporting activities are allowed to reopen at 25% capacity, while the sale and consumption of alcohol remains banned. The weekend quarantine in effect in the Changuinola district in Bocas del Toro province will be lifted as of 17 April. Additionally, all travelers to Panama must present a negative result from a PCR test upon arrival beginning on 19 April. Travelers from South American countries, who previously had to quarantine for a minimum of five days upon arrival to Panama due to the prominence of new COVID-19 variants in the region, need only quarantine for three days.
Lesser Antilles (Security threat level – 1): As of approximately 1220 local time (0420 UTC) on 15 April 2021, La Soufriere volcano continued to spew volcanic ash clouds, with some extending to approximately 12,200 m (40,000 ft) in altitude, according to the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center Washington. At latest report, volcanic ash emissions were not detected, although a hot spot remains visible via infrared imagery. Experts forecast that during the next 18 hours the possibility of sporadic eruptions exists, as the volcano is gradually expected to cease activity. Additionally, the volcanic ash plume is forecast to gradually dissipate within the next six hours.
Volcanic activity continues to disrupt services in the area. Argyle International Airport (TVSA/SVD) on St. Vincent remains closed, and Grantley Adams International Airport (TBPB/BGI) in Barbados is expected to remain closed until at least 1200 local time on 16 April. At latest report, flights to Barbados, Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Vincent are suspended. Most of the island of St. Vincent remains covered in ash, including the capital Kingstown. Water shortages continue as ashfall has contaminated water supplies, and available supplies are being prioritized to emergency shelters. Authorities recommend that water from public water services be boiled and that water exposed to ashfall not be consumed. Intermittent power outages continue across the island. No casualties have been reported as a result of the eruption.
United States (Security threat level – 2): On 14 April 2021, police officers and protesters clashed outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department, located just northwest of Minneapolis, Minnesota, for a fourth consecutive night. At approximately 2115 local time (0215 UTC on 15 April), police officers deployed stun grenades and tear gas to disperse the crowd of approximately 500 individuals who had gathered outside the police station to protest the 11 April shooting death of a Black man during a traffic stop in the area. Some protesters threw water bottles and other projectiles at the officers. Minnesota National Guard troops deployed to reinforce the officers in order to remove the protesters, who left the area within approximately one hour after the clashes. Police officials arrested at least 24 people on various charges related to the protest in Brooklyn Center where a curfew was in effect from 2200 local time on 14 April to 0600 local time on 15 April. Authorities have arrested the former police officer who shot the man at the traffic stop and filed manslaughter charges in relation to the killing of the motorist.
Belgium (Security threat level – 3): On 14 April 2021, authorities announced a loosening of coronavirus-related restrictions beginning on 19 April. The ban on nonessential travel to and from Belgium will be lifted, although individuals who return from a government-designated “red zone” will be required to quarantine and take a COVID-19 test on days one and seven upon return. Schools will be allowed to reopen for limited in-person learning. As of 26 April, nonessential shops will be allowed to fully reopen and serve customers without prior appointments. Close contact professionals, such as barbers and tattoo artists, will be permitted to reopen as well. The number of attendees permitted at outdoor gatherings will also increase from four to 10 people.
Switzerland (Security threat level – 2): On 14 April 2021, the Swiss government announced that restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 will be eased as of 19 April. Bars and restaurants will be permitted to open outdoor seating areas with no more than four people at each table. Leisure facilities, such as botanical gardens, cinemas and zoos, will be permitted to reopen. Additionally, concerts and sporting events will be allowed to resume operations, as long as attendance is limited to no more than one third of the capacity of the venue.
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
Iraq (Security threat level – 5): On the night of 14 April 2021, unidentified militants launched an armed drone attack on a U.S. military base located at Erbil International Airport (ORER/EBL) in the northern Kurdistan region. Officials briefly suspended flight operations at the facility, but they have since resumed. The attack damaged a warehouse at the airport, but there have been no reports of casualties. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack; however, video of the incident is circulating on social media accounts of Iran-affiliated Shiite militia groups.
Analyst Comment: Attacks by Shiite militant groups affiliated with the Iranian government, particularly those targeting U.S. military posts, have become increasingly common in northern Iraq. However, prior attacks have generally involved rockets and this event would be the first such incident involving an armed drone. In February 2021, a rocket attack targeted Erbil International Airport and killed one U.S. government contractor.
Cambodia (Security threat level – 3): On 15 April 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice regarding lockdowns in the capital Phnom Penh and Takhmao, which reads in part as follows: “There has been a community outbreak of COVID-19 since 20 February 2021. The Government of Cambodia has introduced a lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takhmao (in Kandal Province) from midnight on 14 April 2021 for two weeks. Guidance is available on The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. In addition, all restaurants in Phnom Penh are now closed all day to sit-in customer but food delivery services may be available. The sale of alcohol has also been suspended.”
Lesser Antilles (Security threat level – 1): On 14 April 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados, issued a Natural Disaster Alert for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which reads in part as follows:
“Event: The U.S. Embassy is coordinating with Royal Caribbean Cruises for a transit opportunity for U.S. citizens who wish to depart St. Vincent on Friday, 16 April to Dutch Sint Maarten. Boarding on the Celebrity Reflection will begin at 7:00 A.M. and will depart Kingstown Port, St. Vincent at 1:00 P.M. The ship will arrive in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten on the morning of Saturday, 17 April at approximately 7:00 A.M. CDC recommends against travel on cruise ships because the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is higher since the virus appears to spread more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships. See link to CDC guidance below.
“There is no cost or travel fare for the ship’s voyage. However, U.S. citizens will be responsible for making their own onward travel arrangements. Please plan accordingly, including potential hotel stays in Sint Maarten and booking onward commercial airline flights from the Sint Maarten Princess Juliana International Airport which offers direct flight to multiple U.S. cities.
“U.S. citizens who decide not to depart St. Vincent should be prepared to shelter in place for an undetermined amount of time. There are currently no future plans for other transit opportunities.”
The full text of the alert can be read here.
Saudi Arabia (Security threat level – 3): On 15 April 2021, the U.S. Department of State issued an updated Travel Advisory for Saudi Arabia, which reads in part as follows: “Reconsider Travel to Saudi Arabia due to the threat of missile and drone attacks on civilian facilities, and COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in Saudi Arabia due to terrorism…”
“Missile and drone attacks perpetrated by Iran and Iran-supported militant groups represent a significant threat. The Islamic Republic of Iran has supplied Yemen-based Houthis and other regional proxy groups with weapons to conduct destructive and sometimes lethal attacks using drones, missiles, and rockets against a variety of Saudi sites, including critical infrastructure, civilian airports, military bases, and energy facilities throughout the country, as well as vessels in Red Sea shipping lanes. Recent attacks were aimed at targets throughout Saudi Arabia including Riyadh, Jeddah, Dhahran, Jizan, Khamis Mushayt, the civilian airport in Abha, Al Kharj, military installations in the south, as well as oil and gas facilities.”
To read the full text of the advisory, please click here.