AMERICAS Argentina / Jamaica / Panama (Security threat levels –...
Barbados / Colombia / Dominican Republic (Security threat levels – 1 / 4 / 3): On 2 January 2021, authorities in Barbados adjusted existing nationwide curfew hours, which will now be in effect from 2100 to 0500 local time (0100-0900 UTC) to curb the spread of COVID-19. The new curfew hours will remain in effect until at least 14 January. Essential businesses — including supermarkets, gas stations and hotels — will continue to operate during curfew hours.
In Colombia, the Ministry of Health on 3 January announced new COVID-19 entry requirements. International travelers must present a negative result from a PCR test taken within 96 hours before entry into Colombia; however, authorities have lifted the previously required 14-day quarantine period. The requirement is retroactive to 31 December 2020. The new prerequisite is the result of a court ruling that abolished the quarantine requirement for international travelers. Separately, authorities in the capital Bogotá will impose additional quarantine measures in the Engativá, Suba and Usaquén neighborhoods during 5-18 January. During this period, a nightly curfew will be in effect from 2000 to 0500 local time (0100-1000 UTC), nonessential businesses will be required to close, and the sale of alcohol will be banned on weekends.
In the Dominican Republic, additional nationwide coronavirus-related restrictions went into effect on 1 January. Bars, restaurants and other food establishments are prohibited from offering on-site dining and must instead offer takeaway or curbside options. All public spaces are closed, with exceptions for professional sports tournaments without spectators. All public religious activities are suspended until further notice. A nightly curfew from 1700 to 0500 local time (2100 to 0900 UTC) Monday through Friday and from 0000 to 0500 local time on Saturday and Sunday remains in effect until at least 10 January; a curfew grace period is in place for those in transit until 1900 local time.
United States (Security threat level – 2): On 31 December 2020, officials in San Francisco, California, extended the city’s stay-at-home order indefinitely. The order — initially enacted on 6 December — requires the closure of nonessential businesses and prohibits gatherings of people outside of their immediate households. Retail establishments, such as grocery stores and shopping centers, are allowed to operate at 20% indoor occupancy and eateries are allowed to offer only takeout and delivery services. In addition, an existing mandate requiring inbound travelers and returning residents to the city to self-quarantine for 10 days has been extended until further notice. The travel order initially came into effect on 18 December. Exemptions to the quarantine requirement include essential personnel, individuals traveling to perform activities deemed essential, passengers with stopovers at San Francisco International Airport (KSFO/SFO), and those traveling to the city from the nearby counties of San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, Sonoma, Napa, Marin and Santa Cruz. Officials discourage nonessential travel between San Francisco and the aforementioned Bay Area counties. Further information regarding the travel order is available here.
South Korea (Security threat level – 2): On 2 January 2021, authorities expanded an existing ban on gatherings of more than four people in the capital Seoul to the entire country through at least 17 January. Additionally, as of 8 January all foreign nationals arriving by air will be required to provide results of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to departure from their country of origin. As of 15 January, foreign travelers arriving by sea must provide results of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 48 hours ahead of their departure.
Australia (Security threat level – 2): At approximately 2100 local time (1100 UTC) on 3 January 2021, Tropical Cyclone Imogen made landfall near Karumba, Queensland, located in northern Australia. At that time, the storm was moving east-southeast at 21 kph (13 mph) with sustained winds of 75 kph (45 mph) and gusts of up to 100 kph. The cyclone caused significant power outages in both Karumba and Normanton. From 0900 local time on 3 January to 0700 local time 4 January, the town of Normanton recorded 200 mm (approximately 8 in) of rainfall and Mornington Island Airport (YMTI/ONG) recorded almost 260 mm of rainfall due to Tropical Cyclone Imogen. Roadways in the immediate area of Karumba-Normanton have been reported closed, and local residents have been advised to avoid travel due to rising waters. Forecasts expect additional rainfall that is likely to result in flash flooding in low-lying areas and along waterways in northern Queensland.
As of 1055 local time on 4 January, Tropical Cyclone Imogen had been downgraded to a tropical low and was located approximately 60 km (40 mi) north-northeast of Croydon, Queensland, and 140 km east of Normanton, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. At that time, the storm was generating sustained winds of 55 kph, with gusts of up to 85 kph. On its current forecast path, the storm will move inland at 21 kph in a southeast direction toward the North Tropical and Herbert-Lower Burdekin coasts by 2200 local time on 5 January. The Bureau of Meteorology has not issued any flood warnings for the storm.
New Zealand (Security threat level – 1): On 3 January 2021, the New Zealand government announced new coronavirus-related entry requirements to stop the spread of the new strain of COVID-19. The new entry requirements will be in effect from 0000 local time on 15 January (1100 UTC on 14 January) until further notice. Travelers from both the U.K. and the United States will now be denied entry unless they can produce results from a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before arriving in New Zealand. The travelers will also undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine period upon entry into New Zealand. Plans are underway for the New Zealand government to extend the requirements to travelers from other countries.
Iran (Security threat level – 3): On 4 January 2021, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) seized a South Korean-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. Reports indicate that IRGC commandos seized the ship – known as the MT Hankuk Chemi – and forced it to divert to the port of Bandar Abbas in Iran. Iranian authorities allege that the ship was involved in unspecified environmental violations. Reports indicate that the crew is composed of South Korean, Indonesian, Vietnamese and Burmese nationals.
Saudi Arabia (Security threat level – 3): On 2 January 2021, the Ministry of Interior of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced the easing of its travel ban for international travelers entering the kingdom. Entry into the kingdom via air, sea and land will resume at 1100 local time (0800 UTC) on 4 January. A mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement for non-Saudi citizens arriving from countries where the new strain of COVID-19 has been detected will remain in effect. Saudi Arabia instituted the travel ban in December as a precautionary measure to prevent the new strain of COVID-19 from entering the country.
United Arab Emirates (Security threat level – 2): On 3 January 2021, Emirati security forces disrupted an Iranian terrorist cell in Dubai. Reports indicate that the cell was planning attacks timed to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the death of an Iranian military officer. Dubai’s business district and a tourist site popular with Israelis were the reported targets of the attack.
Analyst Comment: Iran-linked militant groups have historically avoided planning and conducting attacks in the United Arab Emirates, in part due to the country’s permissive environment for Iranian business that has helped Iran mitigate the effect of U.S. sanctions. It is unknown if this attempted attack signals a policy shift by Iranian officials, or if it was an unsanctioned operation. Nevertheless, travelers should follow developments in the region, and individuals working with U.S. or Israeli enterprises in the UAE should maintain as low a profile as possible.
Chad (Security threat level – 5): On 31 December 2020, government officials announced that the capital N’djamena would enter a lockdown period beginning at midnight local time on 1 January 2021 (2300 UTC on 31 December 2020). Under the terms of the new lockdown measure, authorities began blocking entrances into the city and all schools, places of worship and other nonessential services were ordered to close for at least one week. Likewise, all air borders in Chad will close for an unspecified period of time as of midnight on 4 January. Nightly curfews also remain in effect from 2000 to 0500 local time in the provinces of Guera, Kanem, Logone Occidental, Logone Oriental and N’djamena and from 1900 to 0500 local time in the provinces of Mayo-Kebbi Ouest and Mayo-Kebbi Chari. Various restrictions on public gatherings remain in effect across the country.
Kenya (Security threat level – 4): On 3 January 2021, Emirati security forces disrupted an Iranian terrorist cell in Dubai. Reports indicate that the cell was planning attacks timed to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the death of an Iranian military officer. Dubai’s business district and a tourist site popular with Israelis were the reported targets of the attack.
Mali (Security threat level – 5): On 2 January 2021, an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated while a French military operation was underway in the Menaka region, located in northeastern Mali. The explosion — which struck a French army vehicle reportedly conducting an intelligence gathering mission in the area — caused two fatalities and injured at least one other individual. According to international media outlets, al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attack, which is the second such occurrence in the last week against French military forces in Mali. The Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), an affiliate of al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the previous attack.
Niger (Security threat level – 5): On 2 January 2021, two groups of suspected Islamist militants traveling on motorcycles simultaneously assaulted the villages of Tchombangou and Zaroumdareye — located in the Tillabéri region near the tri-border area with Burkina Faso and Mali. Niger’s interior minister stated that at least 100 civilians were killed and approximately 75 more sustained injuries. Security personnel have been dispatched to the area. Thus far, no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Canada (Security threat level – 2): On 31 December 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa issued a message regarding mandatory COVID-19 testing requirement for air travelers arriving in Canada, which reads in part as follows: “The Canadian Government announced that effective January 7, 2021, all airline passengers age 5 years of age or older will be required to test negative for COVID-19 when traveling from another country to Canada. The new regulation requires passengers to provide their airline with negative laboratory COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results taken within 72 hours of their scheduled departure to Canada. For more on this new requirement please click here. This new measure is in addition to the existing mandatory 14-day quarantine for all travelers entering Canada.
The full text of the message, which includes links to details regarding domestic travel restrictions in Canada, can be viewed here.
Central African Republic (Security threat level – 5): On 4 January 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Bangui issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows: “The Embassy has received multiple reports that armed groups may continue to disrupt the electoral process in Bangui and nationwide and may seek to move towards Bangui. The National Elections Agency is expected to announce preliminary election results on January 4. Although there have been no specific incidents of violence or threats targeting U.S. citizens, civil unrest, demonstrations, and violence have already occurred, and may recur in the period leading up to, during, and following the election. Out of an abundance of caution, the U.S. Embassy in Bangui decided to limit staff to mission-critical movements starting on January 4 for an indefinite period of time.”