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January 5, 2021


United States (Security threat level – 2): Various groups that support U.S. President Donald Trump have called for rallies in the capital Washington, D.C., on 6 January 2021, to protest the outcome of the 3 November 2020 presidential election. A newly formed group, the Eighty Percent Coalition, has called for a gathering at Freedom Plaza in northwestern D.C., which could draw as many as 10,000 people. The Women for America First group has also called for a rally in the same area, which could draw as many as 5,000 people. The “Wild Protest” is scheduled to occur in the northeast quadrant of the Capitol Lawn, while a conservative activist has organized a rally from the National Mall to the Capitol. Additionally, members of the Proud Boys — a self-proclaimed “Western chauvinist” organization — reportedly plan to gather in smaller groups across the city. Counterdemonstrators are also expected to gather in the city. Pro-Trump rallies are being organized to coincide with a joint session of the U.S. Congress, during which electoral college vote totals will be counted and confirmed, officially certifying Joe Biden — who won 306 of the total 532 electoral votes — as the president of the U.S.

There is a very high probability of clashes between members of the Proud Boys and left-wing antifa activists. In anticipation of violence associated with the rallies, the mayor of Washington, D.C., has urged the general public to avoid the downtown area on 5-6 January. More than 200 unarmed National Guard personnel will be stationed in the city in order to assist the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) on 6 January. Vehicular traffic will be prohibited in a number of streets near the White House presidential residence and the National Mall from 0600 local time (1100 UTC) on 5 January through 2359 local time on 6 January. Further details regarding street closures and parking restrictions imposed by the MPD are available here.


Mongolia / China (Security threat levels – 2 / 3): On 4 January 2021, authorities in Mongolia extended an existing citywide lockdown for the capital Ulaanbaatar until at least 0600 local time on 11 January (2200 UTC on 10 January). Residents are generally prohibited from traveling outside their homes except for essential activities, such as commuting to and from work, obtaining food and medicine, or seeking emergency medical care. Nonessential businesses and academic institutions are closed and travel into and out of the city is permitted only for essential purposes. Travelers permitted to enter the city must undergo COVID-19 testing and complete a health questionnaire.

In Hong Kong, on 4 January authorities extended social distancing orders through at least 20 January. Under the measures, gatherings of more than two people are banned, restaurants must suspend dine-in services after 1800 local time (1000 UTC) and businesses such as bars, beauty salons and entertainment venues are closed.


Belgium / Romania (Security threat levels – 3 / 2): As of 1 January 2021, Belgian and Romanian authorities have issued amended entry requirements for travelers to their respective countries. U.K. nationals and residents, in addition to nationals and residents of countries outside of the EU, EEA and Schengen Area, are not permitted to enter Belgium or Romania except for limited essential purposes. Travelers to Belgium must obtain an essential travel voucher from the nearest Belgian diplomatic post and complete a passenger locator form prior to undertaking travel, as well as show results of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival. Travelers to Romania must provide evidence of the applicable exemption under which they are entering Romania. Passengers arriving from the U.K. who are eligible to enter must show results of a negative COVID-19 PCR or RDT rapid test taken within 48 hours of arrival and self-isolate for 14 days upon entry. The entry restrictions for both Belgium and Romania are in line with EU-wide policies introduced following the U.K.’s departure from the bloc.

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 3): On 4 January 2021, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new nationwide lockdown in England to slow the rapid spread of a new variant of the coronavirus. During the lockdown, which is set to continue until at least mid-February, residents of England are required to stay in their homes except for essential reasons, such as traveling to procure food and medicine, to seek medical attention, or to exercise outdoors. Those who are unable to work remotely are permitted to travel to and from their workplaces. Nonessential retail and hospitality businesses are required to close, although restaurants and other eateries are permitted to offer takeout and delivery services. All educational institutions are required to suspend in-person classes as of 5 January. Further guidance provided by the U.K. government is available here. Johnson’s announcement for England follows a joint statement by the U.K. chief medical officers, in which they recommended that the kingdom’s COVID-19 alert level be moved to the highest tier, Level 5, from Level 4.

Meanwhile, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon enacted an enhanced version of Level 4 lockdown — the highest level on a five-tier system which runs from 0 to 4 — and ordered residents of mainland Scotland to stay in their homes as of 0000 local time/UTC on 5 January. The order, set to be in effect until at least 31 January, provides exemptions for individuals traveling to procure basic necessities, such as food and medicine, to seek medical attention, or to exercise outdoors. Individuals are allowed to travel to their workplaces if the work cannot be performed from home. Nonessential travel into and out of mainland Scotland is prohibited, and outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of two people more than 11 years of age from up to two households. Further guidance provided by the Scottish government is available here.

Northern Ireland entered a lockdown for six weeks from 26 December until at least 6 February; details regarding restrictions that are in place during the lockdown can be viewed here. Separately, Wales is under a lockdown that is expected to be in effect until 31 January; details are available here.


Lebanon (Security threat level – 4): On 4 January 2021, Lebanon’s caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan announced that a nationwide lockdown will begin on 7 January and last until at least 1 February in response to increasing cases of COVID-19 in the country. The lockdown will include a nightly curfew from 1800 local time until 0500 local time (1600-0300 UTC). Additionally, all restaurants, bars and nightclubs will be required to close and only essential businesses — including supermarkets and pharmacies — will be allowed to remain open during curfew hours. Officials stated that they will announce additional details on 5 January.

Qatar / Saudi Arabia / Bahrain / United Arab Emirates / Egypt (Security threat levels – 2 / 3 / 3 / 2 / 4) : On 4 January 2021, Saudi Arabia and Egypt reopened their air, land and sea borders to flights from Qatar. Qatar recently reached an agreement with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to end the air and land blockades that had been in effect since 2017. Reports indicate that details regarding the agreement will be announced on 5 January during a signing ceremony in the town of al-Ula in Saudi Arabia.


Botswana / Lesotho / Rwanda (Security threat levels – 2 / 3 / 3): As of 5 January 2021, governments across Africa continue to implement and reimpose measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 as it resurges across the globe. Most recently, the governments of Botswana, Lesotho and Rwanda have enacted such measures, with more countries likely to follow.

In Botswana, on 4 January the government extended coronavirus-related restrictions until at least 31 January. Under the extension, a nationwide nightly curfew will remain in place under amended hours from 2000 to 0400 local time (1800-0200 UTC); the previous curfew began at 1900 local time. Residents are not permitted to leave their homes during curfew hours except for essential purposes and with an official movement permit. A movement permit is also required to undertake travel for an essential purpose between one of Botswana’s nine COVID-19 zones. Most businesses are open with restrictions on occupancy and social distancing measures. The sale and public consumption of alcohol is suspended until at least 31 January.

In Lesotho, authorities on 4 January reintroduced coronavirus-related restrictions as part of the country’s transition to purple stage regulations from the lowest-risk blue stage. Cafes and restaurants are required to close from 1900 to 0800 local time (1700-0600 UTC), and grocery stores and markets are closed from 1900 to 0700 local time. Nightclubs and similar venues are allowed to open from 1800 to 0000 local time at 50% capacity, and liquor stores are allowed to open from 0900 to 1700 local time on weekdays only. Religious services and weddings are restricted to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors for a maximum of two hours. Other social activities and gatherings are required to be held outdoors with no more than 100 people. The wearing of a face mask is mandatory in all indoor and outdoor public spaces, including aboard public and private transportation.

In Rwanda, authorities introduced a series of coronavirus-related restrictions effective from 5 January until at least 20 January. During this time, a nationwide nightly curfew from 2000 to 0400 local time (1800-0200 UTC) is in effect, during which time individuals may not leave their homes. Businesses — including markets, shopping malls and restaurants — are required to close by 1800 local time and public and private institutions may operate at 30% staff capacity. Recreational facilities and public pools are closed except for those at private hotels and resorts. All social activities and gatherings are prohibited. Nonessential intercity and inter-district travel — via both public and private transport — is suspended, including to and from the capital Kigali; however, tourist travelers may transit between districts provided they have proof of a negative result on a COVID-19 test. Authorities may extend the measures pending review on 20 January.

Mozambique (Security threat level – 4): According to reports from 4 January 2021, operations at a key international liquified natural gas (LNG) project located on the Afungi peninsula in Cabo Delgado province have been suspended due to a growing jihadist threat. Most personnel from the site have been evacuated after the multibillion-dollar project, run by a French energy firm, was suspended. The decision follows a recent string of attacks near the site, including the most recent attack on 1 January against a village outside of the project’s perimeter fence; an attack on 29 December 2020 against a village located approximately 5 km (3 mi) from the project; and two attacks earlier in December against a town located approximately 20 km south of the project. Meanwhile, militant forces have retained control since August of the nearby town of Mocimboa da Praia — where a key regional port that served the LNG project is located.


Burkina Faso (Security threat level – 4): On 5 January 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou issued a Security Alert regarding an increase in armed robberies in areas frequented by expatriates, which reads in part as follows:

” Location: Parc Bangr Weogo, Ouagadougou

“Event: The U.S. Embassy has received multiple reports of armed robberies, some involving expatriates, occurring in Parc Bangr Weogo in Ouagadougou and the neighborhood adjacent to the park. There is a very limited security presence at the park and criminal activity and armed robberies can occur even during daylight hours. The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens to exercise vigilance and maintain situational awareness throughout Ouagadougou.”

The full text of the alert is available here.

Chile (Security threat level – 2): On 4 January 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Santiago issued a Health Alert regarding adjustments to city-level quarantine measures across Chile, which reads in part as follows:

“As of January 3, the Ministry of Health has confirmed 618,191 cases of COVID-19 in Chile. The government of Chile has implemented measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. The following new measures were announced by the Chilean government:

  • The downgrading of the following comunas from Phase 3 (Preparation) to Phase 2 (Transition). This includes the reimposition of a quarantine on the weekends and holidays (begins Monday, January 4 at 5:00 am): Casablanca (Region de Valparaiso), San Antonio (Region de Valparaiso), Villa Alemana (Region de Valparaiso), Quilpue (Region de Valparaiso), La Ligua (Region de Valparaiso), San Clemente (Region del Maule), Los Alamos (Region del Biobio), Lonquimay (Region de la Araucania), Puerto Saavedra (Region de la Araucania), Tolten (Region de la Araucania)
  • The downgrading of the following comunas from Phase 2 (Transition) to Phase 1 (Quarantine). This includes the reimposition of a quarantine all days of the week (begins Monday, January 4 at 5:00 am): Romeral (Region Del Maule), Molina (Region Del Maule), Lota (Region del Biobio), Coronel (Region del Biobio), Hualpen (Region del Biobio), Penco (Region del Biobio), Iquique (Region de Tarapaca), Alto Hospicio (Region de Tarapaca)
  • The upgrading of the following comunas from Phase 1 (Quarantine) to Phase 2 (Transition). This includes the removal of quarantine from Monday-Friday (begins Monday, January 4 at 5:00 am): Isla Grande de Chiloe (Region de los Lagos), Puerto Natales (Region de Magallanes), Cabo de Hornos (Region de Magallanes)
  • The upgrading of the following comunas from Phase 2 (Transition) to Phase 3 (Preparation). This includes the lifting of quarantine on weekends and holidays (begins Monday, January 4 at 5:00 am): Pitrufquen (Region de la Araucania), Curarrehue (Region de la Araucania), Lanco (Region de los Rios), Alhue (RM), Calera de Tango (RM), Isla de Maipo (RM), Tiltil (RM), Penaflor (RM), Quilicura (RM), El Monte (RM), La Pintana (RM), Conchali (RM), Colina (RM), Melipilla (RM), Talagante (RM), Lampa (RM), Recoleta (RM), Huechuraba (RM), San Bernardo (RM), Maria Pinto (RM), Buin (RM), Paine (RM), San Pedro (RM) and Pirque (RM).”

Malaysia (Security threat level – 3): On 5 January 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice regarding the existing Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO), which reads in part as follows: “A Recovery Movement Control Order is in place until 31 March 2021. Restrictions are in place in Kuala Lumpur and the state of Selangor. You should observe social distancing (1 metre).”