AMERICAS Argentina / Jamaica / Panama (Security threat levels –...
Argentina / Chile (Security threat levels – 3 / 2): On 25 March 2021, the Argentine government announced that flights from Brazil, Chile and Mexico will be suspended as of 27 March to curb the spread of COVID-19. The suspension will remain in effect until further notice. Additionally, Argentine nationals and residents will be required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival, submit to another test upon arrival and take a third test on day seven of the mandatory 10-day self-quarantine at a government-approved location. Foreign nationals who are not residents of Argentina remain banned from entry for tourism purposes.
Chilean authorities have announced additional coronavirus-related restrictions for the Santiago metropolitan region, effective as of 0500 local time (0800 UTC) on 27 March. The following 13 communes will join the 38 communes already under quarantine restrictions: Alhué, Colina, Conchalí, Huechuraba, Lampa, Las Condes, Lo Barnechea, Paine, Providencia, Quilicura, Recoleta, San José de Maipo, Tiltil and Vitacura. Measures include a ban on most private and public gatherings, the closure of nonessential businesses and schools, and a temporary suspension of permits that previously allowed residents to leave their residences to acquire groceries.
United States (Security threat level – 2): On 25 March 2021, multiple tornadoes struck the U.S. state of Alabama amid severe thunderstorms that affected the southern region of the country. Strong winds associated with the inclement weather downed trees and utility poles, causing power outages in Alabama and the nearby state of Georgia; as of last report, more than 40,000 homes and businesses in the two states were without electricity. In Alabama’s Calhoun County, a tornado swept through the town of Ohatchee, located approximately 60 mi (100 km) northeast of the city of Birmingham, destroying multiple residences. Four people were killed in Ohatchee and an additional fatality occurred in the town of Wellington. Hundreds of buildings were damaged across Alabama during the inclement weather. Meteorologists have warned of a marginal threat of severe storms on 26 March in the states of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, along with parts of Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee, stretching up to the northeastern region of the United States.
Bangladesh (Security threat level – 4): On 26 March 2021, protests broke out in several cities, including the capital Dhaka as well as Chattogram (Chittagong), in response to a visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for Bangladesh’s Independence Day holiday. In Dhaka, police officers deployed tear gas and rubber bullets near the Baitul Mokarram mosque to separate rival groups of demonstrators. Reports indicate that at least 40 people suffered injuries during the unrest. There were no indications that the unrest impacted Modi’s meetings with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
In related developments, police officers in Chattogram’s Hathazari area fired rubber bullets, tear gas and several rounds of live ammunition as they attempted to disperse hundreds of anti-Modi protesters associated with the Hefazat-e-Islam group. The demonstrators reportedly marched to a police station and began throwing rocks and debris, prompting security forces to deploy the crowd control measures. At least four people were killed and dozens more suffered injuries.
Thailand (Security threat level – 3): On 26 March 2021, Thai authorities announced plans to allow foreign nationals who have received COVID-19 vaccinations to travel to Phuket as of 1 July without quarantining upon entry. Travelers allowed to enter Phuket will be required to present evidence of full vaccination, along with negative COVID-19 test results and must download a tracking app on their mobile device. Officials stated that if the plan is successful, they intend to expand it to other tourist areas in the country.
Austria / Romania (Security threat levels – 2 / 2): On 24 March 2021, Austrian authorities announced a coronavirus-related lockdown for the states of Burgenland, Lower Austria and Vienna — where the capital city Vienna is located — from 1-6 April. A 24-hour stay-at-home order will be in effect, with exemptions in place for errands such as visiting health care centers. Nonessential businesses must close. FFP2 face masks are required in public areas and indoor settings, where more than one person is present. Those commuting to and from high-risk areas or abroad for work must be tested for COVID-19 twice a week. Employees must either work from home or be tested once a week. The measures could be extended, depending on the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates.
Romanian officials have announced increased coronavirus-related restrictions that will take effect on 28 March. Communities with COVID-19 infection rates of more than 7.5 cases per 1,000 residents will be subject to a nightly curfew beginning at 2000 local time (2200 UTC), two hours earlier than the areas with lower infection rates. In communities with infection rates of more than four cases per 1,000 residents, shops must close by 1800 local time Friday through Sunday.
Egypt (Security threat level – 4): On the afternoon of 26 March 2021, two trains collided near the central city of Tahta, located in Sohag province, causing three passenger carriages to derail from the railway track. According to railway officials, an unknown individual activated the emergency brakes of an Alexandria-bound passenger train, which then made an unanticipated stop, and which was struck by another train traveling in the same direction. Two passenger carriages were destroyed and another flipped over following the collision. The Health Ministry stated that 32 people were killed and 66 others were injured in the event. At least 50 of those injured were transported to four local hospitals for treatment.
Israel / Iran / Oman (Security threat levels – 3 / 3 / 2): At approximately 0400 local time (0000 UTC) on 25 March 2021, an anti-ship missile struck an Israeli-owned tanker off the coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea. The vessel has been identified as the Lori, a Liberian-flagged container ship — owned by a Haifa-based firm — that was transporting goods from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to the Indian state of Gujarat. The missile caused damage to the vessel, which briefly came to a full stop and floated for approximately three hours before regaining speed and proceeding to Gujarat’s port of Mundra. There were no reports of casualties in the attack. An Israeli security official blamed the Iranian military for perpetrating the attack.
Kenya (Security threat level – 4): On 26 March 2021, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a new lockdown in the counties of Kajiado, Machakos, Nairobi — which encompasses the capital city of the same name — and Nakuru, due to a spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases. Under the lockdown, which will go into effect at 0000 local time on 27 March (2100 UTC on 26 March), travel between the counties is not permitted; all in-person classes will be suspended; all bars must close; nonessential businesses face new restrictions on operating hours; and a 2000-0400 local time nightly curfew will be in effect.
Cyprus (Security threat level – 2): On 26 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Nicosia issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows: “A large demonstration is expected beginning at 5:00pm on Saturday, March 27 in Nicosia. Protestors are expected to march from the Ministry of Interior towards Eleftherias Square. Cyprus National Police officers will be present.”
Mali (Security threat level – 5): On 25 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Bamako issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:
“The movement “Yerewolo, debout sur les remparts” (Patriots Standing up on the Ramparts) has called for a protest against the presence of French troops in Mali. The protest is slated to occur at 2:00 PM on Friday, March 26, 2021, along the Boulevard de l’Indépendance. Malian authorities are aware of, but have not yet approved, the protest.
“Additionally, the Military Defense Committee (CDM) is planning a large meeting to be held on Friday, March 26 at 2:00 PM in memory of the 33 FAMa soldiers killed in Tessit on March 15. The meeting will take place at the Palais des Sports in ACI 2000. Malian authorities are aware of, but have not yet approved, the meeting.
“Demonstrations sometimes turn violent, resulting in the burning of tires, clashes with the police, blockage on the roads and bridges, throwing of rocks at vehicles, the deployment of tear gas, and small arms fire.”
Myanmar (Security threat level – 4): On 26 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Yangon issued an update regarding Myanmar’s security situation, which reads in part as follows: “Armed Forces’ Day is tomorrow, March 27. The Embassy is unable to confirm any information about increased security force or protest activities for this weekend. However, you may consider avoiding unnecessary travel tomorrow and remaining close to home as a precautionary measure. Please ensure you have a plan in place to contact loved ones should internet service become unavailable. If the security situation destabilizes, remain at home until you deem it is safe to go back out.
“Over the past several days, the size of protests in Yangon and elsewhere have decreased significantly; however, security forces continue to resort to forceful tactics, including the use of tear gas and live ammunition against civilians resulting in deaths and injuries. Roadblocks, either created by security forces or by community watch members, may exist. There are reports of more security checkpoints appearing on major roads leading into Yangon and other major cities. Be prepared to stop and show proof of identity and residency. Expect traffic delays.
“There are reports that security forces at some of these checkpoints have inspected the phones or laptops of travelers, including foreign nationals, for any evidence of their involvement in anti-regime activities. Please consider what information you want to store on your phone and other devices when traveling.
“In the event you are approached by local law enforcement, identify yourself as a U.S. citizen and attempt to return home or to a public space as soon as possible. A best practice is to carry your U.S. passport to aid in identification. If local law enforcement comes to your home, comply and indicate that you are a U.S. citizen. For your awareness, it is illegal in Burma to take photos or videos of security force operations or military facilities. Police may take action against individuals attempting to do so.
“As of today, martial law is still in place in Yangon in the following townships: Hlaing Thar Yar, North Dagon, South Dagon, Shwe Pyi Thar, Dagon Seikkan, and North Okkalapa. In Mandalay, martial law has been enacted in the following townships: Aung Myay Thar Zan, Chan Aye Thar Zan, Chan Mya Tha Si, Maha Aung Myay, Pyigyidagun. In these townships, martial law may suspend certain civil liberties allowing security forces to be more aggressive in response to protests and in the enforcement of laws and regulations. U.S. Embassy staff have been advised not to travel to the above-mentioned townships in Yangon without prior approval.”
The full text of the message — which includes information regarding the nationwide curfew as well as the availability of essential goods and services — is available here.