February 17, 2021
17-Feb-2021

AMERICAS

Dominican Republic (Security threat level – 3): On 16 February 2021, officials extended an existing coronavirus-related state of emergency and nationwide curfew until at least 16 April. A nightly curfew is in place from 1900 to 0500 local time (2300 to 0900 UTC) Monday through Friday and from 1700 to 0500 local time on Saturday and Sunday; a curfew grace period is in place for those in transit until 2200 local time Monday through Friday and until 2000 local time on Saturday and Sunday. Bars, restaurants and other food-related establishments remain prohibited from offering on-site dining, although they are allowed to offer takeaway or curbside options. All public religious activities remain suspended until further notice.

Guatemala (Security threat level – 4) : As of the morning of 17 February 2021, ash from the erupting Fuego volcano is falling in areas up to 50 km (31 mi) away, including in southern areas of the capital Guatemala City. The eruption expelled a column of ash up to 4,500 m above sea level that has spread to the north, northeast and east. Authorities expect the volcanic activity to continue and encourage affected residents to wear protective masks due to the ash. Fuego, a highly active volcano, also erupted on 14 February, spreading ash to the towns of Alotenango, El Porvenir and Finca La Reunion.

Mexico (Security threat level – 4): As of the morning of 17 February 2021, approximately 20% of the country’s 4.7 million residents affected by ongoing power outages caused by severe winter weather remain without electricity. More than 40% of the population of the city of Monterrey in Nuevo León state has been without electricity for more than 24 hours. Rolling blackouts continue to affect the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas; rolling power cuts affected the states of Aguascalientes, Colima, México, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nayarit, Puebla, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí and Zacatecas on the evening of 16 February due to increased demand. Approximately 1,200 of the 2,600 companies with factories located in the border states have partially or completely suspended operations. Further accumulations of snow and sleet are expected to affect the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila and Sonora later in the day. At least eight people have died in connection to the severe winter storm, including four in the metropolitan Monterrey area due to exposure. In the city of Ciudad Juárez in Chihuahua state, an individual died after slipping on ice while leaving a supermarket and a motorcyclist died after losing control on frozen pavement and crashing. In the town of Río Bravo in Tamaulipas state, two residents died from hypothermia.

United States (Security threat level – 2): As of the morning of 17 February 2021, widespread power outages continue in the southern U.S. state of Texas — where nearly 2.5 million homes and businesses are without electricity — as the energy grid is overwhelmed due to increased demand amid freezing weather conditions. The Houston metropolitan area and nearby Galveston Island remain the areas most affected by the ongoing blackouts, with approximately 1.3 million people without power as of last report. While both airports that serve the Houston metropolitan area — George Bush Intercontinental Airport (KIAH/IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (KHOU/HOU) — reopened on 16 February, significant flight delays and cancellations will probably continue throughout the rest of the week, largely due to the backlog of canceled flights. The airports had suspended operations since the morning of 15 February. Meanwhile in Austin, the state capital, airport officials have announced plans to resume flights at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (KAUS/AUS) beginning at 1300 local time (1900 UTC) on 17 February. At present, a new winter storm warning for areas in southeastern Texas, which came into effect at 0000 local time (0600 UTC) on 16 February, is set to last through 0600 local time on 18 February.

Elsewhere in the United States, significant power outages are affecting the northwestern state of Oregon, where more than 157,800 customers are without electricity. In addition, more than 100,000 customers are without electricity in the state of Kentucky. Thus far, there have been reports of at least 21 weather-related fatalities across the country.

ASIA

Myanmar (Security threat level – 4): On 17 February 2021, tens of thousands of people gathered in the Sule area of central Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, to participate in a major demonstration against the 1 February military takeover. Protesters heeding a call on social media platforms to observe a “Road Blocking Day,” in an effort to impede the movement of security forces and government personnel traveling to work, parked dozens of vehicles at major intersections, on bridges and on the streets, disrupting vehicular traffic. Participating motorists claimed that their vehicles were malfunctioning and could not be moved Additional demonstrations occurred in the capital Naypyitaw — where thousands of private sector employees staged a march through the Pyinmana area. Meanwhile, protesters also took to the streets in Mandalay, the country’s second-largest city. These marches are being organized as part of a civil disobedience movement launched to increase pressure on the junta to release the country’s detained leaders, State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.

In an associated development, the military junta disrupted internet access countrywide for a third consecutive day, from 0100 to 0900 local time. A firewall system is purportedly being installed during the periodic outages, which would enable the junta to monitor and censor online activity.

AUSTRALASIA

New Zealand (Security threat level – 1): On 17 February 2021, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that as of 2359 local time (1059 UTC) the city of Auckland will transition to a COVID-19 Alert Level 2 from Alert Level 3, and that the rest of the country will move to Alert Level 1 from Alert Level 2. Authorities are expected to reevaluate the levels in the coming days. Additional details regarding the requirements for each Alert Level are available here.

EUROPE

Greece (Security threat level – 3): As of the late afternoon hours of 17 February 2021, emergency crews were working to restore electricity to thousands of homes and businesses in suburban areas of the capital Athens following a major snowstorm that affected Greece the previous day. The Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator has deployed approximately 1,500 personnel to repair damaged power lines, which had disrupted power supply to as many as 250,000 customers, particularly in the northern outskirts of Athens. The heavy snowfall accompanied by strong winds downed approximately 900 trees in the Athens area, prompting officials to deploy the military along with other emergency personnel to clear debris from the streets. As of last report, metro services in the city have largely resumed and the main north-south highway that connects Athens to Thessaloniki, the country’s second-largest city, has reopened. A stretch of the highway was shut down the previous day, leaving about 300 trucks stranded at an access road situated close to Thessaloniki. Additionally, on 16 February ferry services between the Greek islands and Athens were canceled and scheduled domestic flights to Athens International Airport (LGAV/ATH) from regional airports were disrupted. There were at least two weather-related fatalities on Evia island and another on Crete island.

Italy (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 0900 local time (0800 UTC) on 17 February 2021, flight operations resumed at Sicily’s Catania–Fontanarossa Airport (LICC/CTA), which had been closed since the evening of 16 February following a volcanic eruption at nearby Mount Etna that emitted huge plumes of ash and smoke into the sky. Falling ash then covered the airport grounds, including the runway and taxiways, forcing officials to shut down the facility for cleaning purposes. At least five flights were canceled or diverted during the closure.

Spain (Security threat level – 3): In the evening hours of 16 February 2021, protesters gathered in multiple Spanish cities to demonstrate against the arrest of a rap artist charged with slandering the monarchy and government institutions, as well as glorifying terrorism. Demonstrations in occurred several areas, including in the cities of Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, Madrid, Sabadell, Tortosa, Tarragona and Valencia. In Barcelona, police officers fired rubber bullets at protesters gathered in the northeastern Plaza de Lesseps, injuring two people. Protesters threw bottles, firecrackers and stones at police officers on Via Augusta. Firefighters deployed in central Barcelona to extinguish fires lit on the streets; several streets were temporarily barricaded in the Vila de Gràcia district. In Girona, demonstrators damaged banks in the Barri Bella district. In Valencia, police officers clashed with protesters as they marched near la Plaza del Ayuntamiento de València. At least 33 people were injured during the demonstrations, with 14 individuals arrested. Additional protests are scheduled to occur on 17 February.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Mali (Security threat level – 5): On 17 February 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Bamako issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows: “The Malian Transport Union has called for a countrywide strike on Wednesday, February 17. Unionized transporters (taxis, trucks, Sotrama taxi-vans, motorcycle taxis) will stop working and shopkeepers will be expected to support the strike by closing their businesses. The strike is expected to affect services in Bamako. Tensions may occur between transporters on strike and others refusing to stop working, which may result in violence. Additionally, traffic may be disrupted throughout Bamako.”

Somalia (Security threat level – 5): On 17 February 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Mogadishu issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows: “Demonstrations are expected to take place on Friday, February 19, 2021, from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Daljirka Dahsoon monument in Mogadishu. Somalia’s opposition presidential candidates have called for protests against President of Somalia Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmaajo” and delays to the country’s electoral process. Given the risk of violent crime and civil unrest, U.S. citizens should avoid these demonstrations and any demonstration-related activities.”

Timor-Leste (Security threat level – 3): On 16 February 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Timor-Leste issued a Security Alert regarding travel restrictions between Bobonaro and Cova Lima, which reads in part as follows: “The Government of Timor-Leste announced that travel to or from the municipalities of Bobonaro and Cova Lima with the other municipalities of Timor-Leste is restricted through 11:59 PM, March 3, 2021, with limited exception. U.S. citizens should be aware that police and security officials will increase their monitoring presence in the municipalities.”