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December 9, 2020


Canada (Security threat level – 2): On 8 December 2020, the western Canadian province of Manitoba extended existing coronavirus-related restrictions, with minor amendments, from 12 December until 8 January 2021 under the critical (red) COVID-19 phase — the highest-level alert — of its four-tier color-coded pandemic response system. The government amended the orders to allow for drive-thru events in which members of the same household can participate while remaining inside the vehicle and to allow thrift stores to resume operations with occupancy restrictions. Further information regarding the upcoming changes is available here. Meanwhile, travel remains prohibited to and from areas in northern Manitoba, located north of the 53rd parallel of latitude, with exemptions for residents who have no COVID-19 symptoms and individuals traveling for essential reasons; nonessential travel elsewhere in the province is discouraged. Additionally, social gatherings are limited to members of the same household, and essential businesses — such as grocery stores and pharmacies — may remain open at 25% capacity. Nonessential retail establishments are required to suspend in-person operations, although curbside, carryout, or delivery services may continue. Additional information regarding the provincial state of emergency and public health orders can be viewed here.

Meanwhile, the province of Alberta introduced a series of new restrictions on businesses and gatherings, which went into effect on 8 December, and will continue until at least 12 January 2021, as part of the province’s ongoing state of emergency enacted to contain the spread of COVID-19. As of 8 December face masks are mandatory in all indoor public spaces, and all indoor and outdoor social gatherings are prohibited. Violators of gathering restrictions may be subject to a fine of up to 1,000 Canadian dollars (about 780 U.S. dollars). Furthermore, beginning on 13 December residents must work from home if able, all nonessential businesses must close, and restaurants and other eateries must suspend in-person services while takeout and delivery services may continue. Essential businesses must restrict occupancy to 15% of maximum capacity and may provide curbside and delivery services if able. Current restrictions, which were imposed on 27 November, will remain in effect until the new restrictions enter into force on 13 December. Additional information is available here.


Australia (Security threat level – 2): As of 1700 local time (0900 UTC) on 9 December 2020, Tropical Cyclone Three has formed in the Indian Ocean and was located approximately 1,270 km (790 mi) north-northwest of Learmonth, Western Australia, and was moving east-southeast at 19 kph (12 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 up to 102 kph. On its current forecast path, the storm is expected to make landfall near Port Hedland in Western Australia by 12 December. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has not yet issued any advisories or warnings regarding the storm.


Cyprus (Security threat level – 2): On 9 December 2020, authorities announced new coronavirus-related restrictions, set to be in effect between 11 and 31 December. Shopping malls, restaurants, cafés, pubs and catering businesses will be required to suspend in-person services, although takeout and delivery services may continue. Services at churches may take place without worshippers, while social events, such as weddings, funerals and baptisms, can proceed with a maximum of 10 attendees. Face masks remain mandatory in all indoor and outdoor public areas.

Switzerland / Italy (Security threat levels – 2 / 3): On 8 December 2020, Switzerland’s national rail operator Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) announced that all cross-border train services with Italy will be suspended indefinitely as of 10 December. SBB trains will continue to operate to Switzerland’s border with Italy. According to the SBB, Swiss train operators do not have the capacity to comply with new COVID-19 safety checks mandated by the Italian government, which requires operators to conduct temperature checks on all passengers, while passengers are also required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test and a document authorizing travel from their employers.


Iraq (Security threat level – 5): On 8 December 2020, the Kurdistan Regional Government imposed a curfew in Sulaymaniyah province from 0000 local time (0300 UTC) on 9 December to 0000 local time on 10 December in response to daily protests that began on 2 December. The demonstrators are demanding basic services, jobs, and an end to cuts and delays in salaries of public sector employees. According to the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights, at least eight protesters have been killed so far during clashes with security forces, who have used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse demonstrations.

Morocco / Palestinian Territories (Security threat levels – 3 / 4): On 9 December 2020, authorities in Morocco extended the country’s ongoing health state of emergency imposed to stem the spread of COVID-19 until at least 10 January 2021. Under the terms of the order, the government may institute disease control measures — such as lockdowns, travel bans and restrictions — and may deploy the military as needed to enforce those measures. The order was initially enacted on 19 March, and will likely be extended if the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

Palestinian authorities on 8 December announced a lockdown in the West Bank cities of Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus and Tulkarem from 10-17 December to curb the spread of COVID-19. During this period, all businesses will be required to close, except for grocery stores and pharmacies, while travel between all West Bank cities will be prohibited.


Zimbabwe (Security threat level – 4): As of 8 December 2020, authorities have amended entry requirements for inbound travelers to Zimbabwe. Travelers who arrive with a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to entry, or who obtain a negative result from a PCR test taken upon arrival, may undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine in their home or private accommodation. Travelers who test positive are quarantined at a government facility. All arrivals must provide track and trace information to health authorities on entry. Departing travelers must also provide a negative test taken within 48 hours prior to their travel date.

Zimbabwe remains under an indefinite lockdown, which requires residents to remain inside their homes except to perform essential activities. In addition, a nationwide nightly curfew from 2200-0600 local time (2000-0400 UTC) is in effect. Intercity travel remains restricted and the availability of public transportation is limited. Face masks are mandatory in all indoor and outdoor public spaces, and individuals may not gather in groups of more than two people except in select locations such as at supermarkets or when queueing for transportation.


Guatemala (Security threat level – 4): On 8 December 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City issued a Demonstration Alert regarding upcoming anti-government protests set to occur in various locations nationwide, which reads in part as follows: “Event: According to open-source reporting, various organizations have planned peaceful demonstrations across Guatemala on Wednesday, December 9 and Thursday, December 10.

“Announced demonstrations are expected at the following locations December 9:

  • Municipalidad y gobernación departamental de Totonicapán
  • Sector Cuatro Caminos, San Cristóbal, Totonicapán
  • Sector Xecanchavox, San Cristóbal Totonicapán, Totonicapán
  • Cumbre de Alaska, kilómetro 170 ruta Interamericana, Totonicapan
  • Monumento El Migrante, Salcajá, Quetzaltenango

“Additional demonstrations are anticipated in other locations both on December 9 and December 10:

“While these demonstrations are planned to be peaceful, the Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that even peaceful protests have the potential to turn violent. U.S citizens should also remain alert to the possibility of demonstrations occurring at unanticipated times and locations. Demonstrations can quickly grow in size and often move from one location to another, thus potentially disrupting movement.”

Portugal (Security threat level – 2): On 8 December 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows: “During the holiday season, we encourage U.S. citizens in Portugal to remain vigilant due to ongoing threats posed by transnational terrorist organizations and individuals inspired by violent extremist ideology throughout Europe. Violent extremists continue to focus on locations such as Christmas holiday markets, shopping malls, airports, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, transportation hubs, and other soft targets frequented by tourists.”

South Pacific Islands (Security threat level – 1): On 9 December 2020, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) updated its travel advice for New Caledonia to include the following: “Protests and demonstrations have occurred across New Caledonia. Transport has been disrupted and road blockages are in place, especially in the Greater Noumea area. Access to supermarkets and petrol stations may also be affected. Avoid demonstrations, public gatherings and roadblocks due to the ongoing potential for violence.”