AMERICAS Argentina / Jamaica / Panama (Security threat levels –...
Brazil (Security threat level – 3): On 26 March 2021, authorities in the state of São Paulo extended the ongoing coronavirus-related state of emergency and associated restrictions until 11 April due to a spike in local COVID-19 cases. The measures were scheduled to expire on 30 March. Under the restrictions, a nightly curfew from 2000-0500 local time (2300-0800 UTC) is in effect, and all beaches and parks are closed.
Colombia (Security threat level – 4): At approximately 1530 local time (2030 UTC) on 26 March 2021, a car bomb exploded in front of the mayor’s office in central Corinto, a town located nearly 60 km (37 mi) southeast of the city of Cali. The explosion caused significant damage to buildings near the town square; the mayor’s office and nearby police station sustained the most significant damage. The blast wounded 43 individuals, six of whom suffered serious injuries. The government has blamed the attack on the Dagoberto Ramos Mobile Column, a dissident faction of the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) insurgent group.
United States (Security threat level – 2): On the weekend of 27-28 March 2021, heavy rainfall across the U.S. state of Tennessee caused significant flooding in Nashville, the state capital, where more than 7 in (175 mm) of rain was recorded during the two-day period. Floodwaters inundated dozens of homes and businesses in the city. Multiple highways, including a stretch of Interstate 40, were temporarily shut down due to high levels of water. Emergency crews rescued at least 130 people from flooded homes and vehicles stranded on submerged roadways in the city. There were four flooding-related fatalities. In response to the damage caused by widespread flooding, the mayor of Nashville on 28 March declared a local state of emergency to aid in recovery efforts.
United States (Security threat level – 2): On the night of 26 March 2021, three separate shooting events occurred in the Oceanfront area of the city of Virginia Beach, located in the U.S. state of Virginia. At approximately 2320 local time (0320 UTC on 27 March), officers from the Virginia Beach Police Department (VBPD) responded to reports of gunfire in the popular tourist area and found eight individuals with gunshot wounds. Police officers arrested three individuals in connection to the first shooting, which took place during a physical altercation among a group of individuals. A few minutes later, a second shooting occurred in the vicinity of the initial event, during which one passerby was killed. In addition, a police officer shot and killed an armed man during a third event in the same area. Amid these events, a vehicle struck a police officer, who suffered only minor injuries. Authorities are investigating the three shootings, which appear to be unrelated.
Bangladesh (Security threat level – 4): On 28 March 2021, a countrywide general strike occurred in Bangladesh to denounce the government’s use of force during demonstrations organized to protest Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit from 26-27 March to commemorate Bangladesh’s 50th Independence Day. Thousands of mostly student protesters associated with the Hefazat-e-Islam Islamist group gathered in the Sanarpara area of the Narayanganj district and blocked a stretch of the main highway connecting the capital Dhaka to the southeastern port city of Chattogram (Chittagong). Security personnel deployed tear gas canisters and fired rubber bullets at protesters who set ablaze a number of vehicles. At least one person was shot in the area. Meanwhile, protesters set fire to two buses in the western Rajshahi district. In the eastern town of Brahmanbaria, members of the Hefazat-e-Islam group attacked a train and damaged its engine and passenger carriages. At least 10 people were injured in the event. Additionally, security forces in the city used live ammunition during clashes with student protesters the previous day; five individuals were killed and at least 15 others suffered injuries. Officials stated that 13 people were killed during violent protests in the country from 26-28 March.
Indonesia (Security threat level – 4): At approximately 0045 local time on 29 March 2021 (1745 UTC on 28 March), an explosion and subsequent fire occurred at the Pertamina Balongan Refinery oil facility in Indramayu, West Java, located approximately 165 km (105 mi) northeast of the capital Jakarta. At least 20 people suffered injuries, including five with serious burns. Authorities evacuated approximately 900 residents of a nearby village. The cause of the explosion remains unknown.
Indonesia (Security threat level – 4): At approximately 1030 local time (0230 UTC) on 28 March 2021, a suicide bombing occurred outside of a crowded Catholic church in the city center area of Makassar, located on Sulawesi island, during a Palm Sunday Mass. One of the two attackers, who arrived on a motorcycle, detonated his explosives near the main entrance of the cathedral when security personnel prevented the duo from entering the compound. The explosion killed both attackers and wounded at least 20 people, including churchgoers and four security guards. Authorities believe the assailants — a newlywed couple who received online training for manufacturing bombs — were members of the Jemaah Anshorut Daulah militant group, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State.
Philippines (Security threat level – 4): As of 29 March 2021, authorities have enacted lockdown measures in Metro Manila and the surrounding provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. The measures will remain in effect until 4 April. Under the restrictions, a nightly curfew from 1800 to 0500 local time (1000-2100 UTC) is in effect, face masks are mandatory for individuals on public and private transportation, and only essential businesses — such as supermarkets and pharmacies — are allowed to be open. Meanwhile, outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people are banned, as are indoor gatherings of people from different households.
Australia (Security threat level – 2): On 29 March 2021, the premier of the state of Queensland announced that Brisbane — the state capital — and surrounding areas, including Logan, Moreton Bay, Ipswich and Redlands, will be placed on a three-day lockdown after health officials detected a cluster outbreak of COVID-19 in the city. The lockdown began at 1700 local time (0700 UTC) and will continue until 1 April. Residents of those areas are required to stay home unless they meet one of the standards for exemption, which include essential work, grocery shopping, exercise and caregiving. Nonessential businesses and schools are required to close during the lockdown.
In related developments, authorities in various states announced entry restrictions in response to the lockdown in the greater Brisbane area. Residents returning to South Australia from the Brisbane area must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine and are required to take COVID-19 tests on the fifth and 12th days of quarantine. In Victoria, individuals must apply for a “red zone” permit, and if approved, must self-isolate for 14 days upon entry; as of 30 March, only travelers with valid exemptions will be permitted entry from Queensland. Individuals seeking to enter Tasmania from the Brisbane area are now required to quarantine for 14 days before entry.
United Kingdom (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 2200 local time/UTC on 26 March 2021, police officers forcibly dispersed approximately 1,000 individuals who had gathered outside the New Bridewell police station in central Bristol, located in southwestern England, to protest a new policing bill. Mounted police officers, along with canine units, deployed and used baton charges on protesters, who threw firecrackers and various other projectiles at the officers. However, no injuries were reported in the clashes. Authorities arrested 10 individuals. The demonstration was organized to protest the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill — currently making its way through the U.K. Parliament — that would grant additional powers to police officials in England and Wales to tackle protests.
Oman / Jordan / Lebanon (Security threat levels – 2 / 3 / 4): As of 29 March 2021, authorities in Jordan, Lebanon and Oman have announced revisions to their policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional details are available below.
On 28 March Jordanian authorities extended the country’s partial lockdown until at least 15 April. The partial lockdown includes a nightly curfew for individuals from 1900-0600 local time (1700-0400 UTC) and from 1800-0600 local time for businesses. Meanwhile, the 24-hour weekly curfew from Thursday to Saturday, which starts at 1900 local time on Thursdays and ends at 0600 local time on Saturdays, will also remain in effect.
Lebanese authorities on 26 March announced that a nationwide curfew will go into effect for the Easter holiday weekend. The curfew will begin at 0500 local time (0200 UTC) on 3 April and last until 0500 local time on 6 April. Grocery stores will be exempt from the curfew, and there will be exceptions for emergency situations. Authorities strongly encourage individuals to refrain from hosting private gatherings for the holiday.
Omani authorities on 28 March implemented a nationwide nightly curfew from 2000-0500 local time (1600-0100 UTC). Exemptions to the curfew are in place for individuals working in essential fields, including medical personnel, sanitation workers, airport employees and workers in the petroleum industry.
Guatemala (Security threat level – 4): On 26 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows: “The U.S. Embassy advises that, due to ongoing security threats, the following departments remain under continued travel restrictions to Embassy personnel until further notice: Huehuetenango (with the exception of the city of Huehuetenango), and San Marcos (with the exception of the city of San Marcos). U.S. Embassy personnel and family members are restricted from personal travel to these departments, with the exception of the aforementioned cities, and must receive approval for official travel.”
Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On 26 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows: “Political opposition groups intend to demonstrate throughout Downtown/Champs de Mars, Carrefour Aeroport, Nazon, Lalue, Bourdon, Juvenat, Delmas and Petionville areas from March 28-30, 2021. Please remain vigilant as large gatherings of this sort, while largely peaceful, can become unpredictable. Please avoid unnnecessary travel in this area at this time.”
Myanmar (Security threat level – 4): On 28 March 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) updated its travel advice for Myanmar to include the following: “The FCDO advises British nationals in Myanmar to leave the country by commercial means as soon as possible. This change in the level of advice follows a significant increase in the level of recent violence on 27 March.”
Analyst Comment: Prior to the latest update, the U.K. government advised its citizens to “leave the country by commercial means, unless there is an urgent need to stay.”
Oman / United Arab Emirates (Security threat levels – 2 / 2): On 26 March 2021, the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) issued a Maritime Alert, which reads in part as follows: “A maritime incident has been reported in the Arabian Sea in the vicinity of 16-12N 062-45E on March 25, 2021 (GMT). The nature of the incident is reported to be an explosion aboard a commercial vessel. Exercise caution when transiting this area. U.S. commercial vessels operating in this area should review U.S. Maritime Advisory 2021-001 for points of contact. This Alert will automatically expire on April 02, 2021. Any maritime industry questions regarding this alert should be directed to [email protected].”