December 28, 2020
28-Dec-2020

AMERICAS

Panama (Security threat level – 3): On 27 December 2020, Panamanian authorities announced that coronavirus-related lockdowns in the provinces of Panama and Panama Oeste will be extended from 4 January 2021 until at least 14 January 2021. The lockdown measures are set to be in effect countrywide from 31 December to 4 January and prohibit residents from leaving their homes except for essential purposes, such as grocery shopping and medical appointments. From 4-14 January, a lockdown as well as a 2000-0500 local time (0100-1000 UTC) nightly curfew will be in place in the two aforementioned provinces. Meanwhile, the current nightly curfew from 1900-0500 local time will remain in place in the rest of the country, where residents may leave their homes to perform essential activities on certain days according to gender and the last digit of a national ID or passport. Likewise, taxi services will be available on different days depending on the last digit of the vehicle’s license plate.

United States (Security threat level – 2): At approximately 0630 local time (1230 UTC) on 25 December 2020, a recreational vehicle exploded on Second Avenue near Commerce Street in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, causing extensive damage to at least 41 buildings in the area. The blast, which occurred outside a building that belongs to the AT&T telecommunications firm, caused widespread internet and telephone disruptions in Tennessee and the nearby states of Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Kentucky. The firm stated that 96% of its wireless services, 60% of business services and 86% of consumer broadband and entertainment services were restored as of late on 27 December. Due to the telecommunications disruptions, the Federal Aviation Administration temporarily halted outbound flights from Nashville International Airport (KBNA/BNA) at approximately 1430 local time on 25 December; most flights resumed shortly before 1800 local time. Three people suffered injuries in the blast and were taken to hospitals. Authorities have identified a 63-year-old local man, who was killed in the blast, as the sole suspect. Investigation to determine a possible motive for the bombing remains underway.

United States / United Kingdom (Security threat levels – 2 / 3): On 24 December 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new order requiring all travelers arriving from the U.K. to present proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to departure in order to enter the U.S. — effective as of 28 December. Entry of foreign nationals who have visited the U.K. in the previous 14 days has been prohibited since March. The latest order follows the discovery of a new variant of coronavirus in the U.K., which may be up to 70% more contagious than the original. The full text of the CDC announcement can be found here.

ASIA

Asia: As of 28 December 2020, countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region continue to maintain and amend coronavirus-related restrictions on entry and movement in response to new strains of coronavirus. Indonesia announced an entry ban on foreign travelers as of 1 January 2021, while an entry ban on foreign travelers is in effect in Japan until at least 31 December. The governments of South Korea and the Philippines extended ongoing suspensions of flights from the U.K. until 7 and 14 January, respectively. In Hong Kong, a ban on foreign travelers is in effect until further notice.

In Indonesia, on 28 December authorities announced that all foreign travelers will be banned from entering the country for two weeks as of 1 January 2021. Only high-level government officials and individuals with a residency permit will be exempt from the order. The government previously banned all travelers from the U.K. on 23 December.

In Japan, as of 28 December, a ban on entry for all foreign travelers is in effect until at least 31 January 2021. Officials stated that there are exceptions for returning permanent residents.

On 28 December South Korean authorities extended the ongoing suspension of all commercial flights arriving from the U.K. until at least 7 January. The measure was set to expire on 31 December before being extended. All travelers who have visited or transited the U.K. prior to arriving in South Korea are permitted to enter, but must undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine and obtain a negative result from a COVID-19 PCR test before leaving quarantine. In addition, arrivals from the U.K. will be subject to temperature screenings with the threshold at which they must undergo additional testing lowered to 37.3 Celsius (99.1 Fahrenheit) from 37.5 Celsius. In the Philippines, on 27 December authorities extended the ongoing suspension of commercial flights arriving from the U.K. until at least 14 January. The suspension was initially set to be in effect from 24-31 December before being extended. All travelers who have visited or transited the U.K. within 14 days prior to traveling to the Philippines are not permitted to enter or transit through Philippine airports. Passengers arriving in the Philippines are subject to heightened health screening procedures and COVID-19 testing upon entry, and may be required to undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine. Travelers are responsible for the costs associated with testing and quarantine.

At approximately 0040 local time on 25 December (1640 UTC on 24 December), amended entry requirements for travelers into Hong Kong went into effect. Until further notice, foreign travelers arriving in Hong Kong from outside mainland China, Macao or Taiwan, or who have spent time outside of these areas within 14 days prior to traveling to Hong Kong (or the previous 21 days for South Africa and the U.K.) are not permitted to enter the territory. In addition, Hong Kong residents who have visited South Africa or the U.K. for two or more hours within 21 days prior to travel are not allowed to enter Hong Kong. All travelers eligible to enter the territory must undergo COVID-19 testing upon arrival followed by a 21-day mandatory quarantine in a government-approved facility at their own expense. Travelers eligible to enter Hong Kong and arriving from a high-risk country — including the U.S. — must also show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to the scheduled time of departure.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Israel (Security threat level – 3): At 1700 local time (1500 UTC) on 25 December 2020, Israeli authorities implemented a nationwide lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. During the lockdown, set to remain in effect until at least 27 January, residents are not allowed to travel more than 1 km (0.6 mi) from their home for nonessential reasons. Exceptions include work, medical treatment, political protest and exercise. Individuals found outside their home for nonessential reasons face a fine of up to 500 New Israel shekels (155 U.S. dollars). Additionally, nonessential businesses are closed.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Madagascar / Mozambique (Security threat levels – 3 / 4): As of 1100 local time (0900 UTC) on 28 December 2020, Tropical Cyclone Chalane was located approximately 440 km (250 mi) east-northeast of the French island of Europa in the Mozambique Channel and was moving west-southwest at 17 kph (11 mph), according to the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center. At that time, the cyclone was generating maximum sustained winds of 65 kph, with gusts of up to 80 kph. On its current forecast path, the storm will make landfall near the Mozambican city of Beira on 30 December. Authorities have activated a countrywide Early Action Protocol due to the expected heavy rainfall and flooding.

Chalane made landfall as a tropical depression in Madagascar near the northeastern town of Mahavelona on the evening of 26 December. During 25-27 December, Chalane caused significant flooding in Madagascar, killing at least 26 people; at least 18 of those died while attempting to cross a flooded river. The storm is expected to bring an additional 100-200 mm (4-8 in) of rain to central Madagascar, with isolated maximums of up to 300 mm in select areas.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

China (Security threat level – 3): On 27 December 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing issued a Health Alert regarding a COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing’s Chaoyang District, which reads in part as follows: “Location: People’s Republic of China

“Event: At least 7 persons have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Chaoyang area in the past few days. As a result, mass testing is being conducted in Wangjing, Donghu, Tianzhu free trade zone, and airport subdistricts, as well as at the River Garden and Kempinski Residence Communities. The U.S. Embassy strongly recommends all U.S. citizens to comply with local health authorities. In the event of an emergency, please contact the U.S. Embassy or nearest Consulate.

“The government of PRC continues to implement enhanced screening, quarantine, and preventative measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. U.S. citizens in areas designated as medium-risk and high-risk for COVID-19 may be subject to intensive prevention and control measures, which could include mass testing, closures, transportation disruptions, lockdowns, or other measures.

“The U.S. Embassy continues to monitor the rapidly changing conditions due to COVID-19 in China and in other locations worldwide. The most current information regarding the impact of COVID-19 may be found at our COVID Information Page. ”

Saudi Arabia (Security threat level – 3): On 28 December 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh issued a Health Alert, which reads in part as follows: “In response to the new strain of COVID-19,on December 27, the government of Saudi Arabia announced a one-week extension of its travel-related restrictions. The restrictions, originally announced on December 21, extended the suspension, except in exceptional cases, of all international flights for travelers, including entry to the Kingdom through land and sea ports.

“Additionally, the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) Circular No. 4/34761, published on December 27, stated that airlines are permitted to carry non-Saudi passengers outside the Kingdom subject to certain restrictions. However, airlines coming from countries where the new strain of COVID-19 has appeared will not be permitted. The announcement did not give additional information on inbound flights into Saudi Arabia.”

To read the full text of the Alert, please click here.

Turkey (Security threat level – 4): On 26 December 2020 the U.S. Embassy in Ankara Turkey issued a Health Alert, which reads in part as follows: “As of December 28, 2020, all international passengers traveling to Turkey are required to have taken a COVID-19 PCR test with a negative result within 72 hours prior to their flight. Passengers must submit their test results to the airline at the time of check-in. Passengers failing to submit a negative PCR test will not be permitted to board the flight to Turkey. This requirement will remain in effect until March 1, 2021. In addition, any passengers who have visited United Kingdom, Denmark and South Africa in the 10 days prior to their arrival in Turkey are required to have taken a PCR test with a negative result within 72 hours of their flight. Negative test results should be submitted at the time of check-in. Passengers arriving from these countries must also quarantine at their hotel or residence on arrival, and submit to a PCR test on the 7th day. If the PCR test results are negative, the quarantine can end. Those who test positive will receive ongoing treatment and monitoring.”

To read the full text of the Alert, please click here.