December 15, 2020
15-Dec-2020

ASIA

Myanmar (Security threat level – 4): Myanmar’s Central Committee on Prevention, Control and Treatment of COVID-19 has approved the resumption of commercial domestic flights as of 16 December 2020. Commercial international flights remain suspended, but officials are reportedly considering allowing them to resume. Travelers aboard domestic flights will be required to take a COVID-19 test within 36 hours prior to departure. Additional requirements, such as quarantine, may be imposed based on travelers’ arrival locality.

AUSTRALASIA

Fiji (Security threat level – 2): As of 2100 local time (0900 UTC) on 15 December 2020, Tropical Cyclone Yasa was located approximately 675 km (420 mi) west-northwest of Suva, Fiji, and was moving east at 11 kph (7 mph), according to the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center. At that time, the cyclone was generating maximum sustained winds of 194 kph, with gusts of up to 240 kph. On its current forecast path, the storm is expected to strengthen over the next 24 hours, after which it will weaken slightly before re-strengthening as it passes between the two main Fijian islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu on 18 December. The storm is forecast to bring heavy rainfall and have maximum sustained winds of 213 kph, with gusts of up to 260 kph at the time if affects Fiji. In anticipation of significant disruptions associated with the cyclone, the government has announced the closure of schools on 16 December. Additionally, residents are boarding up their homes and businesses, and are acquiring food, water and other basic necessities ahead of the cyclone’s arrival.

South Pacific Islands (Security threat level – 1): As of 0900 UTC on 15 December 2020, Tropical Cyclone Zazu was located approximately 390 km (240 mi) west of Niue island and was moving east at 9 kph (6 mph), according to the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center. At that time, the cyclone was generating maximum sustained winds of 83 kph, with gusts of up to 100 kph. On its current forecast path, the storm is expected to strengthen slightly after tracking between Tonga and Niue.

On 15 December Tongan officials recorded rains of up to 235 mm (9 in) on the island of Vava’u, while Vava’u and Ha’apai islands experienced winds of 70-90 kph. Authorities are waiting for the storm to pass before inspecting for potential damage.

EUROPE

Netherlands / Norway / United Kingdom (Security threat levels – 2 / 2 / 3): On 14 December 2020, Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced that a countrywide lockdown will be imposed in the Netherlands for five weeks beginning at 0000 local time on 15 December (2300 UTC on 14 December) in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. During the lockdown period — set to remain in effect until 19 January 2021 — all nonessential businesses, as well as educational institutions, museums, theaters and fitness centers, will be required to shut down. However, essential businesses, such as grocery stores, pharmacies and banks, will remain open. Outdoor as well as indoor gatherings can have no more than two people, except on Christmas Day — when private households may host up to three guests. Additionally, residents are urged to stay indoors as much as possible and avoid all unnecessary domestic and foreign travel. The announcement comes after health officials registered nearly 10,000 new COVID-19 cases in the country on 13 December. Thus far, the Netherlands has recorded about 622,000 COVID-19 cases, with more than 10,000 fatalities. Additional information regarding the lockdown as outlined by the Dutch government is available here.

In Norway, authorities on 15 December extended existing coronavirus-related measures through January 2021. The current measures restrict gatherings contingent upon an event’s location, setting a maximum of 20 people in public places and up to a maximum of 600 people at an outdoor event with fixed seating. Restaurants, cafes and bars are banned from serving alcohol after 0000 local time (2300 UTC) nightly and must maintain separation of customers at a physical distance of at least 1 m (nearly 3 ft). Face masks are mandatory in several cities and towns. The minister of health publicly expressed concern that the spread of COVID-19 will increase during the upcoming holiday season, noting that authorities will reassess the degree of spread in mid-January to determine when existing restrictions will end. Separately, the central government seeks to introduce a travel registration system, in which anyone entering Norway is required to register their personal information, including name, contact details, quarantine location and employer information, if applicable. The self-declaration form is available on the following Norwegian Government Website.

In the U.K., the greater London area, as well as most areas in Essex and parts of Hertfordshire, will be under England’s stringent Tier 3 restrictions beginning at 0001 local time/UTC on 16 December, as officials designate those areas to be at a “very high” COVID-19 alert level. Under Tier 3 restrictions, individuals are prohibited from gathering indoors and also in most outdoor venues; however, groups of up to six individuals may gather outdoors at beaches, parks, or similar settings. Bars, restaurants and other eateries will be required to suspend in-person services, although carryout and delivery services may continue. Additionally, residents are advised not to travel into and out of areas under Tier 3 restrictions. Further guidance regarding restrictions in areas under Tier 3 is available here.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

South Africa (Security threat level – 4): On 14 December 2020, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced additional restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19. Effective from 16 December to 3 January 2021, public access to all beaches and parks in districts with the highest infection rates in the Eastern Cape province and the Garden Route tourist area in the Western Cape province will be closed. Beaches in Kwazulu-Natal province will be closed on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and other public holidays. Additionally, large public gatherings, including festivals and live events, will be prohibited countrywide. Restaurants and bars across the country must close by 2200 local time (2000 UTC) nightly. Alcohol sales will only be permitted between Monday and Thursday, and the nightly curfew will begin an hour earlier at 2300 local time and continue until 0400 local time. The new restrictions came amid a sharp increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks, with approximately 8,000 new cases per day compared to around 3,000 per day in November.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Lithuania (Security threat level – 2): On 14 December 2020, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice regarding the state of emergency, which reads in part as follows:

“Lithuania went into national quarantine on 7 November. From 16 December, Lithuania will enter nationwide lockdown.

“From 12:01am 16 December until midnight 3 January, movement outside of your municipality of residence is prohibited, unless travelling for work, emergency medical treatment, to care for sick/vulnerable people, to prepare for/attend the funeral of a close relative or to move to an owned property outside or primary municipality of residence.”

Additional details regarding restrictions that remain in place can be viewed in the Travel in Lithuania link located here.

Luxembourg (Security threat level – 1): On 14 December 2020, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice for Luxembourg, which reads in part as follows:

“Restaurants and bars are closed to the public until 15 January 2021. Take-away, drive-through and home delivery services remain available. Other restrictions include the ‘rule of two’, limiting the additional number of people allowed to gather at home or during private events. Gatherings of 4 to 10 people in a public space are allowed, subject to wearing of a mask. With some exceptions, gatherings of 10 to 100 people are allowed on condition that people are assigned seating, observe 2 metres distancing and wear a mask. To find out more about local restrictions, please refer to the Luxembourg government website. ”

Malaysia (Security threat level – 3): On 15 December 2020, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) updated its travel advice regarding the change in quarantine requirement for travelers arriving in Malaysia to 10 days from 14 days, which reads in part as follows: “Anyone (including British nationals) who gets permission to enter the country under the immigration rules mentioned above will be obliged to enter quarantine for 10 days at a designated government facility. You will need to meet all costs associated with your quarantine. You will need to download the MySejahtera app.”

Rwanda (Security threat level – 3): On 15 December 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Kigali issued a Health Alert regarding new COVID-19 prevention measures, which reads in part as follows:

“On December 15, the Government of Rwanda announced updated COVID-19 prevention measures, effective immediately:

  • From December 15 – 21, movements are prohibited from 9:00 PM to 4:00 AM.
  • From December 22 – January 4, movements will be prohibited from 8:00 PM to 4:00 AM.
  • All social gatherings including wedding ceremonies and celebrations of all kinds are prohibited both in public and private settings.
  • All gyms and swimming pools are closed (those at hotels may be used only by tested hotel residents).
  • Specific measures in Musanze city: Movements are prohibited from 7:00 PM to 4:00 AM.

“The health situation in Rwanda remains fluid and the U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens prepare for possible future restrictions.”

Additional details regarding restrictions in place in Rwanda are available here.