January 20, 2021
20-Jan-2021

AMERICAS

Brazil / Colombia (Security threat levels – 3 / 4): According to reports from 18 January 2021, authorities in three Brazilian states — Amazonas, Minas Gerais, and São Paulo — have tightened local coronavirus-related restrictions since 15 January. In Amazonas, a statewide curfew from 1900 to 0600 local time (2300-1000 UTC) has been imposed until at least 24 January. In the state of Minas Gerais, most localities have some limits on business operations and recreational venues, including parks. Officials in the city of Belo Horizonte have issued a directive that allows only essential businesses, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, to remain open. Bars and restaurants are only allowed to provide takeout and delivery services. In the state of São Paulo, most localities are under Phase 3 of the state’s five-tier economic recovery plan that permits businesses as well as entertainment and recreational facilities to operate for up to eight hours a day with up to 40% occupancy. The city of Marilia, which is located approximately 445 km (275 mi) northeast of the city of São Paulo, remains under the state’s most restrictive measures, with authorities advising individuals to remain at home except to perform essential tasks and banning large group events. Separately, health authorities on 18 January started a nationwide coronavirus vaccination campaign as many hospitals report a shortage of oxygen supplies and officials announce that two new variants of the virus — one that is more contagious — have been discovered in Brazil.

Colombian authorities in Bogotá on 19 January imposed a citywide nightly curfew from 2000 to 0500 local time (0100-1000 UTC) until 28 January. Additionally, the mayor of Bogotá announced additional citywide restrictions from 2000 local time on 22 January to 0400 local time on 25 January. Only essential businesses will be 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.

United States (Security threat level – 2): The 59th U.S. Presidential Inauguration is expected to begin at approximately 1130 local time (1630 UTC) on 20 January 2021 at the western front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., during which President-elect Joe Biden, along with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, will be sworn into the office for a four-year term. The U.S. Secret Service is leading operations for the National Special Security Event, for which the Department of Defense has deployed 25,000 National Guard personnel to the city. Much of the federal district is restricted to authorized vehicles only and a relatively larger area is restricted to vehicles belonging to local residents or businesses. A 7 ft- (2 m)-high security perimeter fence topped with barbed wire surrounds the Capitol. In addition, perimeter fences are set up around the White House and other federal buildings and barricades are in place in the downtown area. The National Mall is expected to remain closed through 24 January, and there is limited access to the city through 21 January. The Secret Service has published a map and details regarding road and bridge closures, along with parking restrictions, which can be viewed here.

EUROPE

Germany (Security threat level – 3): On 19 January 2021, authorities extended an existing coronavirus-related nationwide lockdown through at least 14 February. Additionally, new rules have been introduced, including a requirement to wear N95 masks aboard public transportation and in stores, as well as a mandate for businesses to allow employees to work from home when possible. Existing limits on gatherings and nonessential businesses remain the same.

Spain (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 1500 local time (1400 UTC) on 20 January 2021, a large explosion occurred in a building on Calle Toledo, located in the central area of the capital Madrid. Local officials reported that a gas leak in the residential areas of Virgen de la Paloma parish is suspected as the cause of the explosion. Emergency personnel have evacuated nearby buildings as inspectors survey the area for additional structural damage. At least two people were killed in the explosion.

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 3): Heavy rains stemming from a powerful storm are causing significant disruptions across central and northern England as of 20 January 2021. The U.K. Met Office has issued an amber warning for rain — the second-highest level on a three-tier color coded system — for areas in northern, central and eastern England until 1200 local time/UTC on 21 January. Rainfall of between 40-70 mm (1.5-2.75 in), with isolated maximums of up to 200 mm, is in the forecast for the amber warning area, which includes Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Wakefield, Lincoln, Nottingham, Leicester and Peterborough. Authorities have issued more than 50 flood warnings across the region, and trains have been canceled. The lowest yellow level warning for rain is in effect for the rest of England, Northern Ireland, Wales and southern areas of Scotland.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Tunisia (Security threat level – 3): Overnight on 19-20 January 2021, violent protests occurred throughout Tunisia for a fifth consecutive day, including in the capital Tunis, where approximately 250 protesters gathered on Bourguigba Avenue in the city center. Security forces used tear gas to disperse demonstrators during a protest in the city of Sidi Bouzid, the town where the 2010 Arab Spring began. Clashes between protesters and security forces also occurred in the Ettadamen, el-Tadamen and Sijoumi neighborhoods in Tunis. Labor unions and other rights groups have announced their support for peaceful protests against the government. The protest activity has continued even as the four-day lockdown from 15 January concluded; the COVID-19 restrictions, along with ongoing economic hardships, have sparked the demonstrations.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Madagascar / Mozambique (Security threat levels – 3 / 4): On 19 January 2021, Tropical Cyclone Eloise made landfall near the town of Antalaha, which is located in northeastern Madagascar. Heavy rainfall affected the Diana region, and structural damage has been reported in the port city Antsiranana and the rural area of Antsiranana-II. At least two individuals have been reported missing after their vehicle was swept away by fast moving water as they were traveling over a bridge. There have been no reported injuries or casualties from the storm.

As of 1200 local time (0900 UTC) on 20 January, Eloise was located approximately 370 km (230 mi) north of Antananarivo, Madagascar, and was moving west toward Mozambique at 29 kph (17 mph), according to the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center. At that time, Eloise was generating maximum sustained winds of 65 kph, with gusts of up to 84 kph. On its current forecast path, Eloise will continue westward and weaken as it moves over Madagascar before entering the Mozambique Channel on 21 January. The storm is expected to strengthen before making landfall on 23 January in the area between Inhambane and Gaza provinces, located in southern Mozambique, according to the Mozambican National Meteorological Institute (INAM).

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Czech Republic (Security threat level – 2): On 19 January 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Prague issued a Demonstration Alert regarding planned protests, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Announced gathering points include, but are not limited to, the following areas in Prague, Czech Republic:

  • U.S. Embassy Prague
  • Old Town Square
  • Malostrankse Namesti

“Event: Wednesday, January 20, 2021 from 1300 – 2100, three separate demonstrations will take place at Malostrankse Namesti, in front of U.S. Embassy Prague, and at Old Town Square. Organizers are expecting approximately 100 participants. The demonstrations are in support of the outgoing and incoming U.S. administrations and against local government restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The full text of the alert is available here.

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On 19 January 2021, the U.S Embassy in Port-au-Prince issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows: “Political opposition groups intend to demonstrate throughout Port-au-Prince on Wednesday, January 20. The U.S. Embassy is a possible demonstration site. Please remain vigilant as large gatherings of this sort, while largely peaceful, can become unpredictable.”