ASIA China (Security threat level – 3): On 23 November...
Canada (Security threat level – 2): On 19 February 2021, the premier of Ontario province extended an ongoing stay-at-home order and other existing public health measures in the provincial capital Toronto, the adjacent Peel region — which comprises Toronto’s western suburbs — and the North Bay-Parry Sound until at least 8 March in a sustained attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19. Residents are required to stay indoors except for essential reasons, such as traveling to work or school, procuring food and medicine, or seeking urgent medical attention. Indoor gatherings of members of separate households are not allowed and outdoor gatherings may have no more than five attendees. Social and religious gatherings, including wedding and funeral processions, are exempt and may host up to 10 people in both indoor and outdoor settings. Nonessential retail establishments are allowed to operate between 0700 and 2000 local time (1200-0100 UTC). Face coverings remain mandatory in all indoor establishments and officials recommend such coverings also be worn in outdoor areas where a physical distance of more than 2 m (6 ft) cannot be maintained. Additional information regarding the stay-at-home order can be found here.
Canada / Mexico / United States (Security threat levels – 2 / 4 / 2): On 19 February 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security declared that U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed to nonessential travel through 21 March in a year-long effort to stem the spread of COVID-19. Individuals involved in cross-border trade and transport are exempt, as are other “essential” personnel — including health care staff and emergency officials — and anyone who transits the border daily for work or to obtain basic necessities, such as food or medicine. The border restrictions, which do not apply to air travel, were initially enacted on 21 March 2020, and have since been renewed monthly.
In a related development, as of 22 February, travelers entering Canada through land border crossings with the U.S. are required to submit their travel and contact information, including a self-quarantine plan, via ArriveCAN before arriving in Canada. Those travelers are also required to take a COVID-19 PCR test at the end of their 14-day self-quarantine, in addition to an existing entry requirement — which came into effect on 15 February — to provide proof of negative results from a PCR test. Exemptions to the testing and quarantine requirements are in place for those allowed to enter Canada for the aforementioned essential reasons.
Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On 21 February 2021, riot police officers deployed tear gas against anti-government demonstrators in the Delmas 33 neighborhood of the capital Port-au-Prince after protesters reportedly began throwing stones. Details regarding casualties are currently unknown. Additional protests are planned to take place in front of the U.S. Embassy and elsewhere from 1000 local time (1500 UTC) on 22 February until 24 February at 1000 local time.
United States (Security threat level – 2): At approximately 1300 local time (2000 UTC) on 20 February 2021, United Airlines Flight 328 – a Boeing 777 aircraft with 231 passengers and 10 crew members on board – experienced an uncontained failure of its right engine shortly after departing Denver International Airport (KDEN/DEN) in Colorado and returned to the facility. Debris from the aircraft fell onto several neighborhoods in the northwestern Denver metro suburbs, including the city of Broomfield. There were no reports of casualties. The National Transportation Safety Board has opened an investigation into the cause of the engine failure.
Following the incident, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on 21 February an Airworthiness Directive ordering immediate inspections for Boeing 777 aircraft fitted with Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines. The order will also increase the inspection frequency for these specific aircraft. FAA officials noted that this will likely result in some such aircraft being removed from service. United Airlines, the only U.S. air carrier that uses Boeing 777 aircraft with that specific engine, announced it was voluntarily and immediately grounding its fleet of 24 of the aircraft. The Boeing company also recommended that all aircraft fitted with that engine be grounded, noting that 69 of the aircraft were in service and 59 were in storage. Additionally, the Japan Aeronautical Information Service Center — Japan’s aviation safety regulator — issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) ordering all its local air carriers to ground Boeing 777 aircraft with Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines until further notice.
India (Security threat level – 3): On 22 February 2021, authorities in Maharashtra state instituted a nightly curfew during 2300-0600 (1730-0030 UTC) in the city of Pune, which is located approximately 150 km (95 mi) southeast of Mumbai, until 28 February. During curfew hours residents may not leave their homes except for essential purposes such as for work or to obtain food or medical care. The measure follows a 10% surge in the city’s testing positivity rate in the last 15 days.
Myanmar (Security threat level – 4): On 22 February 2021, anti-coup protesters staged a nationwide general strike and held demonstrations to demand the release of detained elected officials. The full extent of the strike remains unknown, although reports indicate that many commercial businesses closed, and that numerous public-sector workers such as doctors, nurses and civil servants stayed home. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators have reportedly attended protests, including at the Hledan Juntion Skyway and the Sule Pagoda in Yangon, the country’s largest city. There were no reports of violence at the demonstrations. In related developments, reports indicate that the junta ordered the internet to be cut during 0000-1200 local time on 21 February (1730 UTC on 21 February – 0530 on 22 February). Meanwhile in the capital Naypyitaw and the nearby city of Pyinmana, security forces dispersed demonstrations and arrested at least 24 protesters.
On 20 February security forces used live ammunition, rubber bullets, tear gas and two water cannons to disperse demonstrators at the Yadanarbon shipyard in the city of Mandalay. The dispersal operation began when hundreds of demonstrators gathered in opposition to a police raid at the shipyard on protesting workers who are on strike as part of a civil disobedience campaign against the 1 February military coup. At least two people were killed and six others suffered injuries. Police officers reportedly arrested at least 10 people. As of most recent reports, the unrest at the facility has largely concluded.
Spain (Security threat level – 3): During 19-21 February 2021, protesters continued to clash with police officers in Barcelona, the capital of the northeastern Catalonia region, to demand the release of an imprisoned performer. On 21 February riots broke out in front of the National Police Headquarters. Although protests were initially peaceful, demonstrators began throwing bottles, stones and garbage containers at police officers as the evening progressed; police officers responded by forcibly clearing the area. Five individuals were arrested for looting businesses and another three were detained for offenses related to disorderly conduct. At least seven police officers suffered injuries. No information was available on injuries among the rioters. On 20 February demonstrators vandalized banks and shops on Passeig de Gracia avenue and threw projectiles and flares at police officers. In response, authorities fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. A total of four people were injured in the clashes and at least three people were arrested, while demonstrators caused approximately 128,000 euros (156,000 U.S. dollars) worth of damage. On 19 February protesters erected barricades near Plaça Catalunya and Carrer Gravina, as well as along the Avenida Marquès de l’Argentera and Ronda de Sant Pere thoroughfares in the downtown area, and vandalized several banks in the city, including branches of the BBVA and CaixaBank. Several retail stores in the city were also looted. Authorities stated that demonstrators threw firecrackers toward police officers at the Passeig de Lluís Companys walkway. Meanwhile, in the northern Catalan city of Girona, demonstrators lit fires behind a courthouse in the downtown area and erected barricades along the Ronda de Sant Pere thoroughfare. Protesters in the city threw stones at police officers, who deployed batons in response.
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has condemned the acts of violence and the government is unlikely to release the performer, who was arrested on 16 February for “insulting the monarchy and glorifying terrorism,” and is also a known supporter of Catalonia’s secession from Spain. Thus far, more than 100 people have been injured and police officers have arrested approximately 80 people since the demonstrations broke out.
Democratic Republic Of The Congo (Security threat level – 4): At approximately 1015 local time (0815 UTC) on 22 February 2021, unidentified gunmen assaulted a U.N. convoy near Goma, the capital of North Kivu province. At least three people were killed, including the Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Officials with nearby Virunga National Park — located along the border with Rwanda and Uganda — stated that it appeared to be an attempted kidnapping. While there has thus far been no claim of responsibility for the attack, dozens of armed groups operate in the area and commonly carry out similar attacks.
Costa Rica (Security threat level – 3): On 19 February 2021, the U.S. Embassy in San José issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows: “The U.S. Embassy has received credible open-source information from social media sites indicating several municipalities plan to conduct a protest in front of the Legislative Assembly on Monday, February 22. A specific time for the protest has not yet been announced. According to the information, the group is protesting the new public employment law and negotiations with the IMF.
“While most protests in Costa Rica are non-violent in nature, you should exercise caution in the vicinity of any large gatherings,?protests, or demonstrations. Avoid such large gatherings whenever possible; do not attempt to enter or pass through them. The Embassy will continue to review the situation and will provide additional information as needed.”
Iran (Security threat level – 3): On 22 February 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice regarding entry requirements, which reads in part as follows: “Entry to Iran is permitted for Iranian nationals, residents and holders of some types of visas only. The authorities are not permitting anyone to enter Iran from the UK, via direct or indirect flights until 10 March 2021. This date is subject to change, possibly at very short notice.”
Kuwait (Security threat level – 2): On 21 February 2021, the U.S. Embassy issued a Health Alert, which reads in part as follows: “On February 20, the Government of Kuwait announced that it is extending the ban on the entry of non-Kuwaiti citizens until further notice instead of allowing non-Kuwaiti citizens to enter Kuwait on February 21 as previously announced. There are exceptions available for first-degree relatives of Kuwaiti citizens and domestic employees traveling with them.Details can be found at corona.e.gov.kw/en.”
The full text of the alert is available here.