ASIA China (Security threat level – 3): On 23 November...
United States (Security threat level – 2): On the evening of 21 March 2021, officials in the city of Miami Beach, Florida, extended a state of emergency and accompanying 2000-0600 local time (0000-1000 UTC) nightly curfew in the South Beach entertainment district. Officials imposed the restrictions, which will be in effect every Thursday to Sunday until 12 April, in an effort to prohibit large gatherings during the spring break holiday. Vehicular traffic on eastbound lanes of the causeways — which connect the island city to mainland Miami — will be prohibited nightly from 2200-0600 local time. Exemptions to the eastbound lane closures are in place for city residents, hotel guests and employees of businesses in the city traveling on the Julia Tuttle and MacArthur causeways, while only city residents are allowed to travel on the Venetian Causeway. Sidewalk cafes and outdoor dining restaurants must close daily at 1900 local time, although restaurants may continue offering delivery services. The full text of the order is available here.
Officials instituted the measures after thousands of tourists, who were visiting the city for spring break, damaged restaurants, brawled on the streets and did not employ precautions to mitigate the threat of COVID-19, such as wearing face masks or observing social distancing measures. On 20 March police officers fired pepper balls to enforce the curfew after it went into effect at 2000 local time. Authorities arrested approximately 50 people during the weekend of 20-21 March.
Japan (Security threat level – 1): On 20 March 2021, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Organizing Committee announced that international spectators will be barred from entering Japan to attend the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games — which will take place from 23 July to 8 August and 24 August to 5 September, respectively — due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Officials promised to refund tickets already sold to international spectators. Additionally, the organizing committees added that most foreign volunteers will not be allowed to assist with the games, although some exceptions exist for individuals who are fluent in certain languages.
Japan (Security threat level – 1): At 1809 local time (0909 UTC) on 20 March 2021, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck approximately 27 km (17 mi) east-northeast of the city of Ishinomaki at a depth of 54 km, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Very strong shaking was felt in Sendai, while weak to light shaking was felt as far away as the capital Tokyo. The U.S. Tsunami Warning System issued a tsunami threat warning for coastal areas of Japan located within 300 km of the epicenter of the earthquake, and the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) warned that areas in the Miyagi prefecture may experience tsunami waves of up to 1 m (3 ft) in height. According to local media reports, some coastal areas were impacted by tsunami waves of up to 3 meters. All tsunami advisories were lifted by 1930 local time. At least eight people suffered minor quake-related injuries, but there were no reports of significant damage. Approximately 200 homes lost power temporarily. As a precaution, authorities briefly suspended operations at the Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant to check for damage, and also inspected the offline Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant — located approximately 95 km south of Sendai — for potential damage; the Fukushima plant experienced a meltdown in 2011 due to a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. However, reports indicate that neither facility was damaged. All Shinkansen bullet train services were suspended in the region until 2200 local time while authorities inspected for possible damage to the railway tracks.
Thailand (Security threat level – 3): On 20 March 2021, police officers deployed tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse anti-government demonstrators in the capital Bangkok. Clashes began after demonstrators tore down part of a wall of shipping containers that authorities had set up to block demonstrators from reaching the Grand Palace in the city center. Approximately 1,000 demonstrators had gathered in the Royal Field area, located close to the Grand Palace, to demand the release of protest leaders authorities arrested for their involvement in previous protests to demand reforms to the monarchy. At least 20 civilians and 13 police officers were injured in the violence. Authorities arrested 20 individuals for violating the coronavirus-related ban on public gatherings and for insulting the monarchy.
Australia (Security threat level – 2): As of 22 March 2021, all coastal areas in New South Wales state are under a severe weather warning amid torrential rainfall and subsequent extensive flooding over the past four days. Authorities have declared a natural disaster across a large portion of the state, where approximately 18,000 people were forced to evacuate their residences; about 15,000 of those were evacuated from the Mid-North Coast and an additional 3,000 people were evacuated from western Sydney. The heavy rains caused flooding of the Hawkesbury River, which runs north and west of Sydney, and the Nepean River — which is located to the west and southwest of Sydney. In addition, the Warragamba Dam, the main water source for Sydney, has overflowed. Other rivers and dams across the state also overflowed as isolated maximum rainfall of up to 100 cm (40 in) was recorded in the state. A number of major roads across the state are impassable and flights at Newcastle Airport (YWLM/NTL) — located nearly 185 km (115 mi) north of Sydney — were suspended on 21 March after the airport’s sole runway was inundated; the facility is anticipated to remain closed until 24 March. The Australian military will deploy helicopters on 23 March to assist in the ongoing search and rescue operations. The Bureau of Meteorology has warned of additional heavy rainfall and strong winds in New South Wales on 23 March.
Norway (Security threat level – 2): As of 19 March 2021, the government of Norway has taken steps to impose stricter coronavirus-related measures in response to an increase in local cases. Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced ahead of the upcoming Easter holiday that any Norwegian engaging in nonessential travel abroad will be subject to a mandatory quarantine period at a government-designated hotel upon return to Norway. In addition, the country’s existing entry restrictions have been extended until 7 April, which includes a ban on foreign nationals. Additional information on entry restrictions to Norway, including the list of exemptions, is available here.
United Kingdom (Security threat level – 3): On the night of 21 March 2021, a demonstration against a new policing bill escalated into violence in the southwestern city of Bristol, England. Hundreds of protesters threw rocks and fireworks at riot police officers who were guarding the New Bridewell police station, vandalized the windows of the installation and set ablaze two police vehicles. An additional 10 police vehicles were damaged. Authorities stated that 20 police officers were injured in the ensuing clashes, including two who suffered serious injuries. Police officers arrested seven people during the event. In the lead-up to the violence, an estimated 3,000 people had gathered peacefully in the city’s College Green area in the afternoon hours to protest the draft legislation that would grant additional powers to police officials in England and Wales to deal with demonstrations.
Guatemala (Security threat level – 4): On 21 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows: “The Embassy has received information that several planned, peaceful demonstrations and roadblocks will take place across Guatemala between Monday, March 22 and Thursday, March 25. At this time, the known participants are health care workers union and veterans of Guatemala’s armed forces.
“The participants have announced their intention to protest and/or block roads at the following locations:
Monday, March 22
The National Union of Healthcare Workers (El Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de Salud de Guatemala – SNTG);
Tuesday, March 23-Thursday, March 25
Veterans of Guatemala’s armed forces;
Iceland (Security threat level – 1): On 19 March 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice for Iceland, which reads in part as follows: “From 26 March, you will be allowed entry if you have a valid certificate of previous COVID-19 infection or of vaccination approved by the Icelandic Authorities. If you hold one of these certificates you will be exempt from pre testing, testing on arrival and or quarantine requirements. However, Border Control will evaluate whether the certificate is valid and correct.”
Mexico (Security threat level – 4): On 19 March 2021, the U.S. Consulate General in Nogales issued a Security Alert regarding an increase in crimes reported in Sonora state, which reads in part as follows: “Travelers should exercise increased caution when traveling in and around the municipalities of Santa Ana, Magdalena de Kino, and Imuris in Sonora state due to ongoing criminal violence. There have been recent reports of carjackings, killings, and armed attacks in the vicinity of Federal Highway 15 between Santa Ana and Imuris, many of which have taken place during the day.”
Pakistan (Security threat level – 5): On 22 March 2021, the U.S. Consulate General in Karachi issued a Security Alert regarding the upcoming Pakistan Day holiday, which reads in part as follows: “Location: Karachi, Sindh
“Event: Pakistan Day, Tuesday, March 23, 2021
“The U.S. Consulate General in Karachi, Pakistan recommends avoiding areas in and around the Jinnah Mausoleum on March 23, 2021 due to heightened security.
“U.S. Consulate personnel have been advised to avoid this area.
“Demonstrations, political rallies, sporting events, or large religious gatherings intended to be peaceful can possibly escalate into violence. U.S. citizens should avoid areas where large crowds of any kind gather. U.S. Embassy and Consulate personnel are routinely instructed to avoid areas of any demonstration. During demonstrations or periods of civil unrest, the Pakistani government has in the past disabled cellular telephone and internet service, making it difficult for individuals to contact each other or the U.S. Embassy or Consulates.
“The Department of State reminds all U.S. citizens to be aware of their surroundings, particularly around public markets, restaurants, government and military institutions, and other locations.”
Republic of Congo (Security threat level – 3): On 22 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville issued a Security Alert regarding possible post-election demonstrations, which reads in part as follows:
“Event: There is a possibility of demonstrations and civil disturbances today, March 22, in response to the passing of presidential candidate Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas.
“The U.S. Embassy and consular section are closed to the public today, March 22, and have advised non-essential staff to remain home as we work to learn more about this developing situation.
“The internet and SMS messaging have been blocked, and disruption of phone communications remains a possibility. Roads may be blocked and transportation, including commercial air travel, could be disrupted.
“Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.
“There is also a possibility of demonstrations and civil disturbances on the day that the Ministry of Interior announces the presidential election results. The Ministry is expected to announce the results several days after the March 21 presidential election.”
The full text of the alert is available here.
World: On 19 March 2021, the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) issued a Maritime Advisory, which reads in part as follows: “Multiple instances of significant GPS interference have been reported worldwide in the maritime domain. This interference is resulting in lost or inaccurate GPS signals affecting bridge navigation, GPS-based timing, and communications equipment. Satellite communications equipment may also be impacted. Over the last six months, areas from which multiple instances have been reported include the eastern and central Mediterranean Sea, the Persian Gulf, and in the vicinity of the Suez Canal. The U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Center (NAVCEN) webpage, go.usa.gov/xs6xa, contains a chronological list of recently reported GPS problems.
“Exercise caution when underway and prior to getting underway. The NAVCEN and NATO Shipping Center websites contain information regarding effective navigation practices for vessels experiencing GPS disruption. The information reaffirms safe navigation practices when experiencing GPS disruptions, provides useful details on reporting disruptions, and is intended to generate further discussion within the maritime community about other disruption mitigation practices and procedures. This guidance also recommends reporting such incidents in real time; noting critical information such as the location (latitude/longitude), date, time, and duration of the outage/disruption; and providing photographs or screen shots of equipment failures experienced to facilitate analysis. The NAVCEN information is available at: https://go.usa.gov/xQBaU.”
To read the full text of the advisory, please click here.