Poland (Security threat level – 2): On 7 April 2021, the Polish minister of health announced an extension of existing COVID-19 restrictions until 18 April in an attempt to reduce stress on the country’s hospital system. Businesses deemed nonessential, such as shopping malls and gyms, remain closed. The restrictions will maintain occupancy limits on public transport, at commercial businesses and in places of worship. Additionally, individuals are required to wear face masks in public spaces.
Bahrain / Saudi Arabia (Security threat levels – 3 / 3): On 6 April 2021, the National Medical Team for Coronavirus Response announced an easing of coronavirus-related entry restrictions for Bahraini citizens returning from abroad. As of Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan on 12 May, travelers with proof of full COVID-19 vaccination will be exempt from having to take COVID-19 tests pre-departure and upon arrival in Bahrain. Additionally, officials are set to reopen restaurants, cafes and movie theaters as well as allow attendance at sporting events to vaccinated individuals. Social distancing and other public health measures will remain in place.
Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia on 6 April the president general of the Grand Mosque and Prophet’s Mosques announced new permit requirements for individuals seeking to conduct the Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca. As of 12 April — the beginning of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan — only individuals with proof of having received full inoculation against COVID-19 no less than 14 days prior to arrival will be granted permits to perform the Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca and attend prayers at the Grand Mosque. Additionally, individuals with evidence of recovery from COVID-19 are also eligible to apply for permits. Verification of an individual’s immunizations will be confirmed through the Tawakkalna application, the official app approved by the Saudi Ministry of Health to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The president stated that these requirements are being imposed to maintain the safety of pilgrims and worshippers.
Benin (Security threat level – 3): On 6-7 April 2021, opponents of Benin’s President Patrice Talon protested in several cities, denouncing his decision to stand for reelection. Hundreds of people marched, burned tires and set up roadblocks in the capital Cotonou and the central city of Parakou, according to a Western media outlet. Talon, who assumed power in 2016, faces two challengers in the upcoming election on 11 April, despite a promise that he would serve only one term.
Analyst Comment: There is an increasing likelihood of post-election unrest in Benin. Benin’s image of stability and democracy in West Africa has been eroding since 2019. For example, the decision to exclude opposition leaders from the parliamentary election in April 2019, sparked rare violent and deadly unrest in the country. As post-election demonstrations grew in April and into May, Talon blocked internet access and security officers used deadly force against demonstrators. For additional information see the Security Alert from the U.S. Embassy in Cotonou in the Government Warnings section below.
Ethiopia (Security threat level – 4): As of 6 April 2021, border clashes between the people of the eastern Afar and Somali regions remain ongoing. According to the Afar region’s deputy police commissioner, at least 100 civilians have been killed during the violence, which commenced on 2 April. Each side denies initiating the clashes, and it remains unclear what specifically provoked the violence. Ethnic and regional tensions have sparked border clashes since the federal government in 2014 redrew the boundary between the regions.
Benin (Security threat level – 3): On 6 April 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Cotonou issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:
“Event: Benin will hold presidential elections on April 11, 2021. Before, during, and after Election Day, U.S. citizens in Benin should heighten their situational awareness and exercise increased caution. Presidential campaigning and election activity could generate large crowds and demonstrations. Election-related gatherings may lead to an increased risk of violence, petty crime, arrest, and traffic disruptions. Large gatherings also increase the risk of transmission of COVID-19. U.S. citizens should avoid crowds and demonstrations and take proper precautions against the spread of COVID-19.”
The full text of the alert is available here.
Chad (Security threat level – 5): On 7 April 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office issued updated travel advice regarding the upcoming election, which reads in part as follows:
“The Chadian Presidential Election will take place on 11 April, but the official result will not be announced until 25 April. During this period, you should be vigilant and avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people. If you become aware of any nearby protests leave the area immediately. You should keep yourself informed of developments through local media.”
New Zealand (Security threat level – 1): On 7 April 2021, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) issued updated travel advice for New Zealand, which reads in part as follows: “From 19 April 2021 you can travel from Australia to New Zealand without having to enter managed isolation on arrival. Pre-COVID entry requirements will apply. For further information see NZ COVID-19.
“New Zealand is now exempt from the ban on overseas travel from Australia for people who have been in Australia for 14 days prior to departure. Be prepared for the possibility of an extended stay or disruption to your travel if authorities implement measures in response to COVID-19 outbreaks.”
North Macedonia (Security threat level – 3): On 6 April 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice for North Macedonia, which reads in part as follows: “From Wednesday 7 April, all catering facilities are closed to the public unless operating via online/telephone orders or self-collection outside of the catering facility (via stand/counter). This includes cafes, restaurants, bars, clubs and other facilities that provide catering services, including catering facilities in accommodation (hotel, motel, hostel, boarding house and other accommodation facility) or at gas stations.
“Some businesses are allowed to open including shops in shopping malls, supermarkets and grocery stores but they may operate with reduced working hours and limits are placed on the number of people entering shopping facilities at any time. Betting shops and casinos are to be closed for visitors.
“There is a complete ban on visitors to all gyms, fitness clubs and sport centres.
“It is forbidden to organise, hold and attend / participate in any kind of seminars, trainings, workshops, courses, conferences and other events of this type.
“There is a ban on gathering in groups and groupings of more than four people in public space, parks, or any open area. This applies to the entire territory of the country every day during the week.
“Health and safety protocols are in place on beaches including wearing of face coverings and social distancing, and at swimming pools.
“Other measures include cancellation of some cultural and sporting events; restrictions on gatherings in public areas and closure of some schools and universities. Further measures can be introduced at short notice.”
Serbia (Security threat level – 3): On 6 April 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:
“Location: Belgrade, Serbia
“Event: Soccer clubs Partizan and Red Star will play on April 7, 2021 at 6:00 PM, at Red Star stadium. This is a high-risk event because of animosity between hooligans affiliated with both teams, and frequent clashes between them in and around the stadium. This match will be played without an audience, but there are indications that fans will gather near the stadium prior to the match. Expect traffic congestion and enhanced police presence in the area and around the city.”