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December 23, 2020
23-Dec-2020

AMERICAS

Honduras / United Kingdom / South Africa (Security threat levels – 4 / 3 / 4): On 23 December 2020, Honduran authorities implemented an entry ban for foreign nationals who have visited or transited through South Africa or the U.K. within the last 21 days. Honduran citizens and legal residents who have visited South Africa or the U.K. within the past two weeks must quarantine for 14 days upon their return to Honduras.

EUROPE

Czech Republic / Ireland (Security threat levels – 2 / 2): On 23 December 2020, the Czech Republic government approved new restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19. The restrictions will remain in effect from 27 December to 10 January 2021. Under the restrictions, a nationwide nightly curfew from 2100-0500 local time (2000-0400 UTC) will be in effect, while public gatherings will be limited to two people outside of families. Additionally, nonessential shops, services and ski lifts will be required to close.

Irish authorities on 22 December approved implementing Level 5 restrictions — the most rigid on the five-tier alert scale — nationwide to curb the spread of COVID-19. The restrictions will remain in place from 24 December to 12 January 2021. Under the new restrictions, residents will be required to remain in their county of residence, except for essential purposes, such as for work or education. Hotels will only be allowed to operate for non-social and non-tourist purposes, except for travelers who have prior reservations up to 26 December. Restaurants and bars will also be required to close, while visits to private homes and gardens will be banned from 1 January 2021, except for essential purposes, such as providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable persons. Additional details outlined by the Irish government are available here.

France (Security threat level – 3): Shortly after 0000 local time on 23 December 2020 (2300 UTC on 22 December), a shooting occurred at a residence near the central French town of Ambert, located in Puy-de-Dôme department. A gunman opened fire on several police officers who responded to reports of a domestic disturbance at the home. The assailant then set fire to the home and fled the scene. Authorities cordoned off the area while firefighters worked to contain the blaze. More than 300 police officers were deployed to the area to locate and apprehend the suspect, who died of a suspected self-inflicted gunshot wound a few hours later. At least three police officers were killed and another was wounded in the shooting. Prosecutors stated that the shooting was related to domestic violence and is not being investigated as a terrorist act.

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 3): As of 23 December 2020, authorities in more than 40 countries are maintaining restrictions on passenger flights and/or travelers from the U.K. in an effort to stop the spread of a new strain of coronavirus discovered in the U.K. Some of the EU member states have, however, amended restrictions to allow select travel from the U.K. following the European Commission’s recommendation on 22 December, which advised EU member states to allow essential travel and transit through the U.K. and to halt flight and train suspensions. Most notably, as of 0000 local time on 23 December (2300 UTC on 22 December), French authorities began allowing entry to French nationals and nationals of the EU or the European Economic Area from the U.K. Additionally, U.K. nationals, residents of the EU or European Economic Area seeking travel to France for essential reasons, including cargo transport, are allowed entry. All inbound travelers who are more than 11 years of age are required to possess proof of negative results on a COVID-19 test that is no more than 72 hours old. The entry restrictions are currently set to remain in effect at least until 6 January 2021. Further information, including categories of travel that may qualify as essential, is available here. The French government had instituted a ban on all travel from the U.K. at 0000 local time on 21 December.

Meanwhile, Belgian authorities amended restrictions regarding air and rail travelers from the U.K, effective at 0000 local time (2300 UTC) on 23 December. In place of a total ban, which had been in effect since 21 December, Belgian nationals and individuals with a primary residence in Belgium will be permitted to return home after completing a travel locator form and must self-isolate for seven days upon their return. Travelers from the U.K. can transit through Belgium to travel to a non-EU country but are not permitted to stay in Belgium. Additionally, beginning on 25 December, travelers to Belgium must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to arrival.

The U.K. Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) maintains travel advisories for foreign countries and territories, including information regarding recently imposed and/or amended entry restrictions, which can be viewed here.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Middle East and North Africa: As of 23 December 2020, several countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are continuing to adjust their policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Details regarding the latest developments in Jordan, Morocco and Qatar are available below. Jordanian authorities have suspended all direct flights from the U.K. until at least 3 January 2021. Indirect flights are unaffected, but travelers who have been in the U.K. within 14 days prior to traveling, or who have transited through the U.K., will not be allowed to enter Jordan.

In Morocco, new local restrictions went into effect on 23 December, including a nationwide curfew from 2100 to 0600 local time (2000-0500 UTC). Additionally, all restaurants, cafes, shops and supermarkets are required to close at 2000 local time nightly. Meanwhile, all public and private gatherings are banned and restaurants and cafes in the cities of Agadir and Casablanca are required to remain closed at all times. The new measures will remain in effect until at least 13 January 2021.

In Qatar, on 23 December authorities extended quarantine requirements for travelers entering the country until at least 15 February 2021. Travelers entering Qatar for employment or those holding residency permits should coordinate with their visa sponsors regarding quarantine requirements. In addition, Qatari authorities now require that travelers from the U.K., Denmark, South Africa and the Netherlands quarantine in specific hotels.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Central African Republic (Security threat level – 5): On 23 December 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Bangui issued a Security Alert regarding instability, which reads in part as follows: “Location: Central African Republic (Nationwide)

“Event: Reports of Violence in Bangui and Nationwide

“U.S. Embassy Bangui has received reports of violence and general panic in Bangui, specifically the PK12 neighborhood, as well as ongoing instability in the provinces. The U.S. embassy issued an immediate shelter in place notice for all employees.

“Although there have been no specific incidents of violence or threats targeting U.S. citizens, civil unrest, demonstrations, and violence have already occurred, and may recur in the period leading up to, during, and following the December 27 elections. Armed groups may seek to move towards Bangui and/or cut off supply routes into the city.”

Costa Rica (Security threat level – 3): On 22 December 2020, the U.S. Embassy in San José issued a Safety Alert, which reads in part as follows: “The U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica is aware of the reports regarding recent deaths in Costa Rica associated with the consumption of tainted alcohol. At this time, we are not aware of any U.S. citizen illness or death due to consuming adulterated alcohol in Costa Rica. The deaths have reportedly occurred throughout the country including twenty-two cases in San Jose, six cases in Alajuela, five cases in Cartago, three cases in Heredia, six cases in Puntarenas, and five cases are still under investigation. Out of an abundance of caution, the Ministry of Health has issued a national alert and confiscated 17,000 bottles of alcohol. The Ministry of Health has also established an alert for the following liquor brands: Guaro Chonete, Guaro Cuerazo, Guaro Sacheto, Guaro Gran Apache, Estrella Roja Aguardiente, Guaro Montano, Guaro Fiesta Blanca, Aguardiente Barón Rojo, Aguardiente Timbuka, and Aguardiente Molotov.

“The Embassy strongly recommends all persons avoid consuming alcohol from these brands. If any person has had liquor from the aforementioned brands and is presenting health issues such as severe vomiting, agitation, disorientation, blindness, or any other adverse reactions, immediately call 911. Ministry of Health authorities are asking people to report any instances of the sale of these brands to the Judicial Investigation Organization confidential line at 800-8000-645, or by email [email protected], or by calling the National Center for Intoxicants at 2223-1028 or 800-INTOXICA (4686-9422).”

Democratic Republic Of The Congo (Security threat level – 4): On 23 December 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows: “The United States Embassy in Kinshasa has received credible and specific information of a possible terrorist threat on Christmas Day (December 25, 2020) against churches and other places where non-Muslims congregate in the city of Beni, North Kivu, DRC. We continue to advise U.S. citizens to not travel to North Kivu in the Travel Advisory for the DRC.”

South Africa (Security threat level – 4): On 22 December 2020, the U.S. Consulate in Johannesburg issued a Health/Travel Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Event: A new variant of the COVID-19 virus, known as 501.V2, is driving infection rates in areas of South Africa. This discovery is gaining increased international attention and currently as many as 15 countries [including Ecuador, El Salvador, Germany, Panama, Switzerland, Tunisia and Turkey] have banned flights and travelers who have spent time in The Republic of South Africa in the last 10 days.

“Actions to Take:

  • Travelers should consult with their airlines to inquire about potential flight cancellations and rerouting
  • Check destination and transit countries’ rules and regulations regarding traveling from South Africa
  • Exercise increased hygiene measures and social distancing in South Africa, especially in areas where COVID case numbers are increasing.
  • Visit South Africa’s COVID information and resource portal, https://sacoronavirus.co.za, for additional information
  • Monitor local and international media for continuing developments.”

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