December 17, 2020
17-Dec-2020

AMERICAS

Suriname / Uruguay (Security threat levels – 2 / 2): On 16 December 2020, authorities in Suriname tightened nationwide restrictions implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19. The measures will remain in effect until further notice. A nationwide nightly curfew is in effect Monday-Friday between 2100-0500 local time (0000-0800 UTC), while curfew hours are between 1900-0500 local time on Saturday and Sunday. Gatherings of more than 10 people are banned and restaurants are restricted to takeout services only. Meanwhile, only two international commercial flights per week will operate to the Netherlands.

In Uruguay, President Luis Lacalle Pou announced on 16 December that Uruguay’s borders will close from 21 December to 10 January 2021 due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. Cargo transportation will be exempt from border closures. Additionally, all public events during this time period have been suspended and all social gatherings will be limited to no more than 10 people.

United States (Security threat level – 2): A powerful winter storm in the northeastern region of the United States continues to track farther north toward the New England region on 17 December 2020. The storm has produced heavy snowfall in the region, with more than 3 ft (1.2 m) accumulating in central Pennsylvania and southeastern New York, significantly disrupting travel in cities across the region. Authorities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey issued emergency declarations ahead of the storm’s arrival. The inclement weather has caused cancellations of more than 600 flights at airports in the region thus far on 17 December; Boston Logan International Airport (KBOS/BOS) appears to be particularly affected, with more than 100 flight cancellations. Other significantly affected airports include New York’s La Guardia International Airport (KLGA/LGA) and John F. Kennedy International Airport (KJFK/JFK). An additional 600 flights were canceled at the region’s airports on 16 December. Amtrak trains are operating on a reduced schedule and the rail operator has canceled some of its services through 18 December. Vehicle accidents amid hazardous road conditions killed two people in Pennsylvania’s Clinton County and injured six others in New York City on 16 December.

ASIA

Japan / Indonesia (Security threat levels – 1 / 4) : On 17 December 2020, authorities in the Japanese capital Tokyo raised the city’s medical preparedness alert level to the highest of four tiers amid a surge of COVID-19 cases. Officials described the strain on Tokyo’s medical system as “severe” and stated that health care providers have exhausted resource supplies as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations reach daily new highs. The alert level had been at the second-highest stage since July, before being increased to the highest tier for the first time. On 18 November authorities raised the city’s COVID-19 alert level — a separate alert category — to the highest of four stages amid rising infections. In an effort to ease the strain on the health care system, authorities requested that medical facilities in the city increase the number of available hospital beds allocated to COVID-19 patients to 4,000 from 3,000.

In Indonesia, on 16 December authorities amended requirements for domestic air travel to Bali, effective from 18 December until at least 5 January 2021. As of 18 December, travelers to Bali must show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 48 hours of arrival and complete an e-HAC Indonesia form. While passengers conducting domestic air travel to other locations in Indonesia do not need proof of a COVID-19 PCR test, they must complete an e-HAC form, an airline travel declaration form and possess a certificate indicating that they are free of COVID-19.

AUSTRALASIA

Fiji (Security threat level – 2): At approximately 1800 local time (0600 UTC) on 17 December 2020, Tropical Cyclone Yasa made landfall as the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane — with wind speeds of up to 250 kph (155 mph) — over Bua province, located in the western portion of Vanua Levu island. The storm brought heavy rains and high winds to Bua province as the storm passed inland before reentering the sea near Savusavu Bay several hours later. The cyclone uprooted trees, damaged buildings, downed power lines and caused flash and urban flooding throughout Bua province as it moved over Vanua Levu island. However, no injuries or deaths have been reported to date. Authorities have declared a nationwide state of natural disaster effective until at least 16 January 2021 due to the storm, and a countrywide curfew, which came into effect at 1600 local time, will last until 0600 local time on 18 December.

As of 2100 local time, Tropical Cyclone Yasa was located approximately 185 km (115 mi) north-northeast of Suva and was moving east-southeast at 22 kph (14 mph), according to the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center. At that time, the cyclone had maximum sustained winds of 240 kph, with gusts of up to 296 kph. On its current forecast path, the storm will gradually weaken as it continues moving southeast and passes near or over the island of Koro overnight on 17-18 December. A Tropical Cyclone warning remains in place for Vanua Levu and nearby smaller islands. Storm and gale warnings are in place for Vanua Levu, Viti Levu — on which the city of Suva is located — and nearby islands, while a heavy rain warning is in place nationwide.

EUROPE

Armenia / Azerbaijan (Security threat levels – 4 / 4): On 16 December 2020, separatist officials in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh stated that dozens of separatist soldiers were captured during a raid conducted by Azerbaijani forces in the region on 11-12 December. The human rights ombudsman in Nagorno-Karabakh put the number of captured soldiers at 60. Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry stated that it carried out the “anti-terror” operation to remove separatist forces who refused to vacate the southern Hin Tagher and Khtsaberd villages in Nagorno Karabakh’s Hadrut district, which Azerbaijani officials claim fall under their control per the 10 November peace deal. Four Azerbaijani soldiers were reportedly killed in the raid.

Czech Republic (Security threat level – 2): As of 16 December 2020, authorities have extended the nationwide state of emergency through 23 December and the reinstatement of heightened restrictions under COVID-19 pandemic alert level 4 from 18-23 December. The heightened restrictions include a nationwide nightly curfew from 2300-0500 local time (2200-0400 UTC), business closures, further curtailment of social gatherings, and limited domestic travel restrictions. In addition, bars, cultural venues, recreational facilities and restaurants must close, while other shops and services may remain open with social distancing requirements in place. Additional details are available here.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Namibia / Zimbabwe (Security threat levels – 2 / 4): Namibian authorities amended current coronavirus-related restrictions, effective from 2359 local time (2159 UTC) on 16 December 2020 until at least 30 December. Public gatherings are now restricted to no more than 50 people indoors — down from the previous indoor limitation of 200 people — and 100 people outdoors, and a minimum social distance of 1.5 m (5 ft) must be maintained at all times. Bars, casinos, clubs and restaurants must close daily at 2200 local time. Individuals must wear a face mask in all indoor and outdoor public spaces, and aboard public transportation.

In Zimbabwe, authorities amended entry requirements for travelers to the country. Foreign travelers must arrive with a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to arrival; those arriving without this documentation or who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms will be denied entry. Citizens and residents arriving without a negative PCR test issued within 48 hours of arrival may enter but must pay 60 U.S. dollars for a COVID-19 test. Arriving travelers who display COVID-19 symptoms or who test positive on arrival must undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine in a government facility. Travelers who are not required to quarantine in a government facility may self-isolate for 14 days at a private residence. All arrivals must provide track and trace information to health authorities upon entry. Departing travelers must also provide a negative test taken within 48 hours prior to their travel date.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Argentina (Security threat level – 3): On 16 December 2020, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice for Argentina, which reads in part as follows: “All arrivals into the City of Buenos Aires must take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arriving. Online booking is required. Children under the age of 12 are exempted. Full details on this requirement including information on where you can take the test and how to book are available in the City of Buenos Aires website (in Spanish).”

Panama (Security threat level – 3): On 16 December 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Panama City issued a Health Alert regarding coronavirus-related restrictions, which reads in part as follows: “On December 15, the Government of Panama announced new nationwide movement and business restrictions between December 18 and January 4.

“Movement restrictions:

  • From December 18 through January 4, curfew is set from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.
  • From December 23 at 5:00 a.m. through January 4 at 5:00 a.m., access to/from beaches and the interior will be restricted. There will be checkpoints in strategic locations such as Chorrera, Divisa, La Villa, Chagres, Viguí.
  • Full lockdown from December 25 at 7:00 p.m. through December 28 at 5:00 a.m.
  • Full lockdown from January 1 at 7:00 p.m. through January 4 at 5:00 a.m.
  • International borders remain open.
  • One person per household allowed into supermarkets, with the exception that a minor or a person with a disability may also enter.

“Business operations:

  • From December 18 through January 4, there will be a prohibition on the sale of alcohol (“ley seca”) from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.
  • Government construction projects related to responding to the pandemic are exempted from curfew hours.”