January 13, 2021
13-Jan-2021

AMERICAS

Canada (Security threat level – 2): ): On 12 January 2021, the premier of Ontario province — where the cities of Ottawa, Canada’s capital, and Toronto are located — announced a new emergency declaration and a provincewide stay-at-home order amid concerns of a health care system collapse in the province due to a doubling of local COVID-19 cases during the past two weeks. The order, set to go into effect at 0001 local time (0501 UTC) on 14 January, requires resident to stay indoors except for essential reasons, such as traveling to work or school, procuring food and medicine, or seeking urgent medical attention. Additionally, nonessential retail establishments will be allowed to operate between 0700 and 2000 local time, and outdoor gatherings will be limited to a maximum of five people. Face coverings remain mandatory in all indoor establishments and officials are now recommending they 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 is available here. The latest order comes after a “provincewide shutdown,” which has been in effect since 26 December, failed to stop the rapid surge of COVID-19. Health officials in Ontario have so far recorded more than 222,000 COVID-19 cases, with at least 5,050 fatalities.

Canada / Mexico / United States (Security threat levels – 2 / 4 / 2): On 12 January 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 February in a continued 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 individuals who transit 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.

Colombia (Security threat level – 4): On 12 January 2021, two assailants traveling on a motorcycle launched a grenade outside a commercial establishment on Carrera 40 in downtown Barranquilla. According to the mayor of Barranquilla, extortion was the motive behind the attack, which injured at least 14 people. Authorities cordoned off the area and opened an investigation. Colombia’s vice president announced a reward of 50 million Colombian pesos (14,380 U.S. dollars) for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators.

Colombia / Panama (Security threat levels – 4 / 3): On 12 January 2021, the mayor of Colombia’s capital Bogotá announced a new lockdown to curb the rising number of COVID-19 cases. From 2000 local time (0100 UTC) on 15 January until 0400 local time (0900 UTC) on 18 January, Bogotá will be under a general quarantine that includes a 2000-0400 local time nightly curfew. Only essential businesses are allowed to operate, and only one person per household will be allowed to leave their residence to acquire essential goods, such as groceries and medicine. The localities of Bosa, Cuidad Bolívar, Rafael Uribe, Puente Aranda, San Cristóbal and Usme will be under quarantine measures during 18-28 January. The quarantine of the six localities comes after the mayor placed the localities of Teusaquillo, Kennedy and Fontibon under strict quarantine during 12-21 January.

Panamanian authorities announced on 12 January additional coronavirus-related restrictions that will take effect on 14 January. Most provinces will be under a nightly curfew from 2100 to 0400 local time (0200 to 0900 local time), while select provinces will have stricter movement restrictions. In the provinces of Cocle, Veraguas and Los Santos, a full lockdown will be in effect from 2100 local time on 15 January until 0400 local time on 17 January. In the provinces of Herrera, Panama and Panama Oeste, movement restrictions based on government identification numbers will be repealed, but gender movement restrictions for shopping remain in place. Men are allowed to travel to buy goods on Tuesday and Thursday, while women are allowed to travel on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A full lockdown is in place during the weekend, beginning on Friday at 2100 local time and continuing until Monday at 0400 local time. Businesses in the provinces of Panama and Panama Oeste are not allowed to have gatherings with more than 25 people or a number greater than 25% of a building’s capacity, whichever is lower.

United States (Security threat level – 2): On 12 January 2021, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared that all inbound international aircraft passengers will be required to display proof of a negative result on a COVID-19 viral test taken within 72 hours of boarding their flights. The requirement is set to be effective as of 26 January, and those who fail to produce the required documentation will be denied boarding at their airport of origin. At present, only passengers originating in the U.K. — with an exception for those under 2 years of age — are required to possess proof of a negative result on a COVID-19 test. Details provided by the CDC are available here.

ASIA

Japan (Security threat level – 1): On 13 January 2021, authorities announced additional coronavirus-related restrictions amid rising COVID-19 infections. An existing state of emergency in four prefectures has been expanded to include the prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Aichi, Gifu, Tochigi and Fukuoka. Under the state of emergency, which is in effect until at least 7 February, restaurants and entertainment venues are encouraged to close early, and residents are advised to avoid nonessential outings. However, there are no penalties for businesses or individuals who do not adhere to the requests.

In a related development, the government also announced that all nonresident foreign nationals are banned from entry until at least 7 February. Most foreign travelers had already been banned from entry, but business travelers and students from Brunei, Cambodia, China, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam were allowed to enter.

Taiwan (Security threat level – 1): On 13 January 2021, the government announced that beginning on 14 January, anyone who has traveled to South Africa or Eswatini within 14 days before arriving to Taiwan must quarantine at a designated facility for 14 days and take a COVID-19 test at the end of the quarantine period. After travelers return a negative result from a COVID-19 test, they will undergo an additional seven days of self-health management. The new requirements are in response to an Eswatini national testing positive for the new South African variant of COVID-19.

EUROPE

Armenia (Security threat level – 4): On 13 January 2021, the Armenian government reopened its land borders to foreign nationals. Travelers are subject to health screening at all points of entry. All travelers are required to demonstrate a negative result from a COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival or take a test on entry at a cost of 40 U.S. dollars and self-quarantine until the results are known.

Netherlands (Security threat level – 2): On 12 January 2021, Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced an extension of an ongoing countrywide lockdown imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the Netherlands, citing a threat of rapid spread of the U.K. variant of the coronavirus. The lockdown, which came into effect at 0000 local time on 15 December 2020 (2300 UTC on 14 December), is expected to expire on 9 February. All nonessential businesses, as well as educational institutions, museums, theaters and fitness centers, are required to shut down, although essential businesses — such as grocery stores, pharmacies and banks – are allowed to remain open. Outdoor as well as indoor gatherings of more than two people from separate households are prohibited. Additionally, residents are urged to stay indoors as much as possible and avoid all unnecessary domestic and foreign travel. Additional details outlined by the Dutch government are available here.

Russia (Security threat level – 3): On 12 January 2021, the Russian government extended a ban on flights to and from the U.K. until 1 February due to a more infectious strain of coronavirus currently circulating in the U.K. The measure has been in place since 22 December 2020. The flight suspension may be extended further at the discretion of health authorities.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Tunisia (Security threat level – 3): On 12 January 2021, authorities announced a nationwide four-day lockdown to curb the rising number of COVID-19 cases. The lockdown is scheduled to be in effect from 14 January, a public holiday, to 17 January, with a curfew in effect from 1600 to 0600 local time (1500-0500 UTC). Schools will be closed during 14-24 January.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Central African Republic (Security threat level – 5): On the morning of 13 January 2021, militias of the newly formed Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) — an alliance of rebel groups, including 3R, the Popular Front for the Rebirth of Central Africa and anti-Balaka groups — launched two simultaneous attacks in the outskirts of the capital Bangui. The assailants, who were armed with high-powered firearms and rocket launchers, targeted security personnel in the northern PK11 and PK12 neighborhoods, as well as in the town of Bimbo — located approximately 10 km (6 mi) southwest of central Bangui. Cabinet ministers claimed that security personnel repelled the attacks, which killed at least one U.N. peacekeeper and wounded another. The U.S. Embassy in Bangui has issued a shelter-in-place order for its personnel, citing the clashes. Please see the Government Warnings section below.

Analyst Comment: The latest assaults mark the first time the militias have reached the outskirts of the capital after intensifying their military offensive against government forces following the 27 December general election, in which incumbent President Faustin-Archange Touadéra won a second term. The CPC, which has the support of former President François Bozizé, came into existence shortly before the election. The country’s constitutional court had prohibited Bozize from participating in the election.

Uganda (Security threat level – 4): As of 13 January 2021, tensions remain high across Uganda ahead of the general election scheduled for 14 January. Most recently, security personnel in Obongi County fired live ammunition and tear gas at supporters of member of parliament candidate Hassan Kaps Fungaroo during a campaign rally on 13 January. At least one person was killed, and three others were injured. Meanwhile, on 12 January, key opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi — more commonly known as Bobi Wine — of the National Unity Platform (NUP) party, claimed that the military raided his home and assaulted two of his guards while he was conducting a live radio interview. Wine has largely halted his campaign efforts in recent days as security personnel have frequently intervened, using force to disperse campaign rallies and detaining Wine and his campaign team.

Opposition candidates claim that police officers and military personnel have used excessive force against their supporters throughout the campaign period. Thus far, dozens of individuals have been killed and hundreds more injured during election-related unrest across the country, which has been largely attributed to security personnel forcefully dispersing campaign events.

Incumbent President Yoweri Museveni of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party announced on 12 January that the government had shut down all social media sites ahead of the election. The shutdown followed a decision by social media network Facebook to remove several Ugandan accounts linked to Museveni’s reelection campaign. Additionally, the government has increased the number of police and military personnel patrolling the country, particularly in the capital city Kampala.

Analyst Comment: President Museveni assumed the presidency in 1986 following multiple years of war. Wine and nine other candidates are running in the presidential election on 14 January, although Wine is considered the key challenger. Elections in Uganda are often rife with allegations of voter fraud and rigging by internal and international actors, and a peaceful transfer of power has not occurred since the country gained independence in 1962. The U.S. and European Union have stated that they will not have observers at the election, after the Ugandan government failed to approve the majority of U.S. observers and declined an offer by the EU to deploy a team of experts.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Central African Republic (Security threat level – 5): On 13 January 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Bangui issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows: “The U.S. Embassy has received reports of clashes in Bangui between PK11 and PK 12 and in the Bimbo area. Out of an abundance of caution and due to the possibility of violence and civil unrest, U.S. Embassy Bangui has advised employees to shelter in place immediately for an indefinite period of time.”

The entire U.S. Embassy alert is available here.

Ethiopia (Security threat level – 4): On 13 January 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa issued a Security Alert regarding armed robberies, which reads in part as follows:

“The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa has received several reports of recent strong-armed robberies of American citizens and others hiking in three popular areas — Entoto and Yeka (behind the British Embassy) parks, as well as the Guellele Botanical Gardens. The hikers were in groups that were surrounded by multiple men who were armed with knives, rocks or other weapons of opportunity. Any resistance or perceived lack of cooperation was met with the threat of or actual violence. Embassy security strongly recommends avoiding hiking in these areas at this time. We urge anyone who does decide to hike in these areas, regardless of group size, to exercise extreme caution.

“Please remain mindful of this issue, and please employ sound security practices.

“ACTIONS TO TAKE:

  • Avoid walking/hiking/biking alone.
  • If confronted, do not engage or otherwise escalate the encounter. Do your best to immediately de-escalate the situation and comply with demands for property or cash to avoid injury.
  • Maintain situational awareness. Avoid wearing headphones or using handheld electronic devices in public areas.”

Lesser Antilles (Security threat level – 1): On 13 January 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice for Grenada, which reads in part as follows: “On 20 December, the Government of Grenada announced the suspension of all flights to and from the UK following the new strain of COVID-19 in the UK. This is extended until at least 31 January.”

Thailand (Security threat level – 3): On 12 January 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice regarding an existing emergency decree, which reads in part as follows: “An emergency decree is currently in place. This includes instructions that you must not:

  • enter high risk areas
  • hoard essential goods
  • attend public gatherings
  • propagate false information

“There has been an increase in COVID-19 cases across Thailand. You can find the latest information on case numbers on the Department of Disease Control website. As a result of this increase, the Thai authorities have introduced a number of disease control measures at national and local levels:

“National level:

  • A Red / Orange / Yellow / Green rating for each of Thailand’s 76 provinces is in place (according to the number of COVID-19 cases recorded). Varying degrees of restrictions are in place in each province depending on the colour category and any additional local restrictions.
  • In provinces categorised as Red, also known as ‘Maximum Control Areas’, a two-tier system of restrictions will be in place from 4 January to 1 February.

“Restrictions include:

  • Tier 1: Businesses face restricted operating hours; restrictions on public gatherings; closure of some schools; working from home encouraged where possible; inter-provincial travel discouraged.
  • Tier 2 (these are not currently in place and will only come into force if the situation does not improve): wider restrictions on businesses, including possible forced closures; ban on inter-provincial travel; stricter rules to ensure as many people as possible work from home; tighter monitoring and inspection of high-risk activities and locations; possible introduction of curfews.
  • Restrictions vary in provinces categorised as Orange, Yellow or Green. You should follow the advice of local authorities and comply with disease control measures.

The Thai government advises that you should avoid unnecessary travel, avoid crowded places, and scan the ‘Thai Chana’ QR code when visiting public places.”