January 21, 2021
21-Jan-2021

AMERICAS

Guatemala (Security threat level – 4): On 20 January 2021, authorities introduced additional nationwide coronavirus-related restrictions in response to the rising number of local COVID-19 cases, effective immediately. Municipal markets are allowed to remain open from 0600 to 1400 local time (1200 to 2000 UTC), with exclusive hours set aside for individuals older than 60 years of age. Alcohol cannot be sold from 2100 to 0400 local time. Fairs are banned, as well as wakes and mass burials.

ASIA

Malaysia / Australia / China (Security threat levels – 3 / 2 / 3): On 21 January 2021, Malaysian authorities extended the Movement Control Order (MCO) in the states of Johor, Kelantan, Melaka, Penang, Sabah and Selangor as well as the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan through 4 February; the restrictions were scheduled to expire on 26 January. Additionally, the MCO will be in effect 22 January through 4 February in the states of Kedah, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Negeri Sembilan and Terengganu. Under the MCO, residents are prohibited from traveling beyond 10 km (6.2 mi) of their home, interstate travel is prohibited, social activities such as weddings and public prayers are banned, and restaurants are allowed to provide takeout services only. Essential businesses — such as grocery stores, banks and medical facilities — are allowed to operate normally, while businesses involved in manufacturing, construction, trade and agriculture are permitted to continue operating at reduced capacity. Violators of the order are subject to a 1,000 Malaysian ringgit (250 U.S. dollar) fine.

As of 22 January, and until further notice, all international travelers entering Australia must demonstrate a negative result from a COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to departure. Additionally, face masks will be required for all international flights. Further details, including exemptions, are available here.

In China, authorities in the capital Beijing imposed on 20 January a partial lockdown of the city’s Daxing district until further notice due to new cases of COVID-19. Under the mandate, residents of the district are not allowed to travel beyond the district’s borders, unless they receive permission from officials and test negative for the virus within three days prior to travel. Additionally, gatherings of more than 50 people are banned and residents of five neighborhoods are not allowed to leave their homes. Operations at Beijing Daxing International Airport (ZBAD/PKX) appear to be unaffected by the orders.

EUROPE

Netherlands (Security threat level – 2): On 20 January 2021, the Dutch government introduced additional nationwide restrictions in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, citing concerns regarding new, more infectious variants of the coronavirus. As of 23 January, all inbound flights to the Netherlands from the U.K., South Africa and Cabo Verde will be banned, in addition to those from the following South American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Africa, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela. The ban is expected to remain in effect for at least one month. Additionally, all travelers arriving at airports in the Netherlands will be required to demonstrate a negative result from a rapid (antigen/LAMP) COVID-19 test taken no more than four hours before boarding their flight; the same requirement will also apply to those arriving aboard water vessels from areas deemed high risk for COVID-19. The new requirement is in addition to an existing requirement to possess proof of a negative result from a PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival in the Netherlands. The government has also proposed a 2030 to 0430 local time (1930-0330 UTC) nightly curfew, which is in debate in the House of Representatives. The nightly curfew, if ratified, is expected to go into effect on 22 January and last until 10 February. The Netherlands remains under a countrywide lockdown, which is scheduled to expire on 9 February. Further details regarding the newly introduced restrictions as outlined by the Dutch government are available here.

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 3): As of 21 January 2021, widespread flooding continues across parts of England and Wales following heavy rains that accompanied a powerful storm and is forcing the evacuation of thousands of homes and businesses. In Greater Manchester, approximately 2,000 buildings were evacuated in the East Didsbury, West Didsbury and Northenden areas on the night of 20 January due to rising water levels in the River Mersey. Officials also advised residents in the town of Maghull, located in Merseyside county, to evacuate their properties due to severe flood warnings. Meanwhile, in Wales, the flooding forced the evacuation of residents in the northern towns of Ruthin and Bangor-on-Dee in the early hours of 21 January. Train services have been severely disrupted in Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside; however, there have been no reports of significant injuries or deaths so far. Meteorologists forecast additional heavy rains in the region next week, which will likely cause further flooding and disruptions.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Iraq (Security threat level – 5): On the morning of 21 January 2021, two suicide bombings occurred at a crowded open-air market in Tayaran Square, located in central Baghdad. Reports indicate that an assailant entered the market, claimed to be sick and asked for help, then detonated the explosives. Another assailant then arrived at the scene on a motorcycle and detonated an explosives-laden belt. According to the minister of health, at least 32 people were killed and 110 others were wounded in the blasts. Authorities mobilized medical and security personnel across the Baghdad area following the bombings. Iraqi officials shut down the Green Zone shortly after the attack as a precautionary measure.

Analyst Comment: The death toll is expected to increase, as many of the wounded are in critical condition. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombings, although Iraqi military officials noted that the Islamic State (IS) group likely perpetrated the attack. The group conducted similar attacks in Baghdad in the past, but such bombings have become increasingly rare in the city over the past three years. In January 2018, two suicide bombers detonated explosive devices at Tayaran Square, killing 38 people and wounding 105 others. IS claimed responsibility for that attack.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Djibouti (Security threat level – 3): On 21 January 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti City issued a Security Alert regarding an attack in Tadjoura, which reads in part as follows:

“Event: On the night of 14 January 2021, unknown assailants attacked the Gendarmerie Brigade Office in Tadjoura. Isolated incidents like this have occurred in previous pre-election cycles but it is unclear whether this event represents a politically motivated attack.

“In the lead up to the April Djiboutian Presidential Election, American Citizens are advised to exercise increased vigilance and caution and to be aware of their surroundings.”

“The full text of the alert is available here.

Lesser Antilles (Security threat level – 1): On 20 January 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice for St. Kitts and Nevis, which reads in part as follows: “St. Kitts and Nevis have temporarily suspended British Airways flights from the UK until the end of March 2021. If you are booked on a British Airways flight, you should contact the British Airways Contact Centre at 1877 767 7970 or speak to your travel agent.”

Mozambique (Security threat level – 4): On 21 January 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Maputo issued a Weather Alert regarding Tropical Cyclone Eloise, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Central Coast of Mozambique

“Event: Tropical Cyclone Eloise is currently expected to make landfall near Beira late on Friday, January 22. Expect torrential rains and strong winds with possible flooding, landslides, power outages, impassable roads, and difficult travel conditions. The storm could track to the north or south; prepare for increased rainfall levels and winds throughout the coast of Mozambique.’

The full text of the alert is available here.