AMERICAS Ecuador (Security threat level – 3): On the evening...
Canada / Mexico / United States (Security threat levels – 2 / 4 / 2): On 20 August 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed to nonessential travel through at least 21 September in an ongoing effort to stem the spread of coronavirus, including that of the highly contagious delta variant. Nonessential travel into the U.S. via ferry crossings from the two neighboring countries is also prohibited. Individuals involved in cross-border trade and transport are exempt, as are other “essential” personnel — including health care staff and emergency officials — and anyone who transits the border daily for work or to obtain basic necessities, such as food or medicine. The border restrictions, which do not apply to air travel, were initially enacted on 21 March 2020, and have been renewed monthly.
Although the latest extension prohibits nonessential land and ferry border crossings into the U.S. from Canada and Mexico, the Canadian government has permitted nonessential entry to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents living in the U.S. since 9 August. U.S. travelers seeking to enter Canada are subject to entry requirements, including showing proof of a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to flight departure or arrival at the land or ferry crossings.
Jamaica (Security threat level – 3): On 20 August 2021, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced that coronavirus-related movement restrictions will be in effect during 22-24 August, 29-31 August and on 5 September. During these periods, residents will be required to remain at home except to obtain essential services. Flights will continue on these days, but travelers entering and leaving the airports will be required to present their itineraries. Additionally, a curfew will enter into effect at 2100 local time on 20 August (0200 UTC on 21 August), while on 21 August a 2000 local time curfew will be in effect.
Mexico (Security threat level – 4): As of 0700 local time (1200 UTC) on 20 August 2021, Tropical Storm Grace had re-strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane and was located approximately 300 km (185 mi) east-northeast of the city of Veracruz in Veracruz state and 380 km east of the city of Tuxpan, also located in Veracruz state, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. At that time, Grace was generating maximum sustained winds of 140 kph (85 mph) with higher gusts, and was moving west at 24 kph. On its current forecast track, Grace is expected to move across the southwestern Gulf of Mexico before making landfall in central Veracruz state during the evening of 20 August.
In Quintana Roo state, the passage of Hurricane Grace felled trees and disrupted power to approximately 84,000 customers in the city of Cancún, and 65,000 others across the cities of Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventura and Tulum. A fallen road sign temporarily blocked off one lane of the highway connecting Playa del Carmen and Tulum, and a gas station and two vehicles were destroyed by debris during the storm. No fatalities have been reported.
A Hurricane Warning is in effect in Veracruz state from Puerto Veracruz port to the Cabo Rojo area. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Mexican coast in Veracruz state north of the Cabo Rojo area to the Barra del Tordo area in Tamaulipas state. Grace is forecast to produce 150-305 mm (6-12 in) of rainfall with isolated maximums of 460 mm over Hidalgo, northern Queretaro, Puebla, Tlaxcala, Veracruz and eastern San Luis Potosi. Areas of flash flooding and mudslides are possible. A storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 1-1.5 m (3-5 ft) in the hurricane warning areas, bringing destructive waves. High surf and swells are expected along the southern Gulf of Mexico coastline, which will likely cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
United States (Security threat level – 2): On 19 August 2021, a motorist who claimed to have a bomb in his vehicle drove onto the sidewalk near the Library of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and parked the vehicle, prompting authorities to evacuate multiple government buildings. An hours-long standoff ensued, during which both the Jefferson and Madison buildings, Cannon House Office Building, the Supreme Court, as well as the offices of the Republican National Committee, were evacuated. A massive law enforcement response during the standoff, which lasted for approximately five hours, significantly disrupted transportation services in the area as the surrounding streets were shut down as a precaution. Following negotiations, the motorist ultimately surrendered to police officers at the scene without any resistance and was taken into custody. Prior to the surrender, the man — identified as a 49-year-old North Carolina resident — livestreamed video footage of himself on social media, expressing disgust with President Joe Biden and senators belonging to the Democratic Party. The suspect also profanely called for a revolt against the U.S. government and claimed that there were other “patriots” in vehicles elsewhere in the city. The Capitol Police stated that no actual explosive devices were found in the vehicle. Authorities believe the man had no accomplices.
Afghanistan (Security threat level – 5): As of 20 August 2021, the capital Kabul is under a Taliban-imposed 2100 local time (1630 UTC) nightly curfew until further notice, and the situation at Hamid Karzai International Airport (OAKB/KBL) in Kabul remains chaotic. Crowds are usually relatively small during the early morning hours, but thousands typically arrive by mid-day. The U.S. military controls the military side of the airport, while the Taliban have occupied the commercial side. U.S. military figures report no fighting with the Taliban occupying the commercial section of the airport. However, in at least one instance, Taliban fighters began firing into the air and beating individuals who gathered on the commercial side of the airport to force the crowds to withdraw.
U.S. and NATO forces have evacuated at least 18,000 people from Afghanistan since 15 August, with U.S. forces having evacuated at least 9,000 people since 14 August. Evacuees included U.S. citizens, Special Immigrant Visa applicants and their families and “vulnerable Afghans.”
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued an alert on 19 August urging U.S. citizens and permanent residents and their families to travel to Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul when they deem it safe to do so. The alert reiterated that the U.S. government could not ensure safe passage to the airport. The full text of the alert is available here. In related developments, Air India flights for Afghan nationals will begin on 21 August. The flights follow the Indian government’s decision to process e-visas for Afghan nationals in emergency situations. Applications are available here.
Despite the Taliban’s announcement of a general amnesty for government workers, a Norwegian intelligence report stated that the Taliban have begun targeting Afghans they suspect of having worked in the previous Afghan government or of having provided support to U.S. forces. According to the report, if the Taliban are unable to find these individuals, they instead arrest their families and punish them according to the Taliban’s version of Islamic law. Likewise, reports indicate that the Taliban are hunting journalists and applying the same measures to them and their families, and have assaulted journalists covering events. Reports indicate that the militants attacked at least two journalists covering events in Jalalabad, where the Taliban opened fire on Afghan nationalist protesters.
Fighting may be occurring in the Panjshir Valley region, but it is unknown if it is the result of clashes between the Taliban and the rebel factions gathering there under the banner of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan. Hospitals in the Panjshir Valley have reported an influx of war injuries.
Cambodia (Security threat level – 3): On 19 August 2021, authorities announced that they will lift the nightly 2100-0300 local time (1400-2000 UTC) curfew in the capital Phnom Penh as of 20 August. However, other coronavirus-related restrictions will remain in effect, including a ban on gatherings of more than 15 people and a requirement for nonessential businesses to close.
Singapore (Security threat level – 1): On 19 August 2021, Singaporean authorities announced that as of 2359 local time (1559 UTC) on 20 August all travelers arriving from Hong Kong and Macao will be allowed to skip quarantine upon entry. Travelers will instead be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, and if the result is negative, they will be able to enter without isolating. Anyone who tests positive will be required to quarantine until they test negative.
Sri Lanka (Security threat level – 4): On 20 August 2021, authorities announced that a nationwide 10-day coronavirus-related lockdown will go into effect at 2200 local time (1630 UTC) on 20 August. Officials indicated that essential services will remain operational. Existing restrictions such as a nightly curfew during 2200-0400 local time will remain in effect throughout the duration of the lockdown.
Vietnam (Security threat level – 3): On 20 August 2021, authorities announced that they are imposing additional coronavirus-related measures in Ho Chi Minh City from 23 August until at least 15 September. Under the orders, residents are required to remain at home, except for essential purposes. Additionally, military and medical personnel will be deployed to the city to assist with enforcing the stay-at-home order, expanding COVID-19 testing and delivering food and supplies to residents.
Australia (Security threat level – 2): On 19 August 2021, the premier of New South Wales state extended a lockdown for most of the Greater Sydney area until 30 September. A curfew will be in effect from 2100-0500 local time (1100-1900 UTC) for 12 high-risk local government areas beginning at 0001 local time on 23 August. These areas include Bayside, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Claremont Meadows, Colyton, Cumberland, Erskine Park, Fairfield, Georges River, Kemps Creek, Kingswood, Liverpool, Mount Vernon, North St Marys, Orchard Hills, Oxley Park, Parramatta, Penrith suburbs in Caddens, Strathfield, St Clair and St Marys. Outdoor exercise in these areas is also limited to one hour per day. Most nonessential businesses remain closed except for curbside delivery services.
Anyone traveling from Greater Sydney into regional New South Wales will require a permit beginning on 21 August. These travelers must also produce proof of a negative COVID-19 test that is no more than seven days old. Violators may be fined up to 5,000 Australian dollars (3,585 U.S. dollars). Face masks are required across New South Wales, including outdoors, with exceptions for individuals who are exercising.
Oman (Security threat level – 2): On 19 August 2021, authorities announced that as of 1 September all travelers age 18 or older must present proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 in order to enter the country. Additionally, all travelers must undergo a PCR test either before or after arrival. Travelers who test positive will be required to quarantine for seven days and undergo an additional test on day eight.
Tunisia (Security threat level – 3): On 19 August 2021, the Tunisian government announced new entry restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19. As of 25 August, and until further notice, all travelers who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be required to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in Tunisia.
Afghanistan (Security threat level – 5): On 19 August 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice for Afghanistan, which reads in part as follows: “The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advise against all travel to Afghanistan. You should not travel to Afghanistan
“Commercial flights are not currently operating. We are contacting British nationals, who have registered their details with us, with information about flights departing Kabul for the UK. If you are able to leave Afghanistan safely by other means, you should do so immediately.
“If you are in need of assistance, you should call +44 (0)1908 516666 and select the option “Consular services for British nationals.”