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November 17, 2020


Belize / Costa Rica / Guatemala / Honduras / Nicaragua / Panama (Security threat levels – 3 / 3 / 4 / 4 / 4 / 3): As of 0600 local time (1200 UTC) on 16 November 2020, Hurricane Iota was located approximately 25 km (15 mi) west-northwest of the town of El Pia, Nicaragua, and about 145 km west-southwest of the municipality of Puerto Cabezas, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. At that time, Iota was moving west at 15 kph (9 mph) and was generating maximum sustained winds of 135 kph, with higher gusts. Iota made landfall as a Category 4 storm on the evening of 16 November near Puerto Cabezas, approximately 15 km south from where Hurricane Eta made landfall on 3 November. The storm quickly lost intensity, weakening to a Category 1 hurricane; it is expected to move west across northern Nicaragua before moving across southern Honduras during 17-18 November. The storm is expected to rapidly weaken before dissipating over Central America on the evening of 18 November. Toncontín International Airport (MHTG/TGU) in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, canceled all flights for 17 November in response to the storm’s proximity.

Iota is expected to produce a significant amount of rainfall in several countries through 19 November, leading to flash flooding, river flooding and mudslides. In southern Belize, southeast and central Guatemala, Honduras and northern Nicaragua, 250-500 mm (10-20 in) of rainfall is expected, with isolated maximum totals of 750 mm. In El Salvador and Panama, 100-200 mm is anticipated, with isolated maximum totals of 300 mm. In southern Nicaragua and Costa Rica, 75-125 mm is forecast, with isolated maximums of up to 250 mm. Swells generated from Iota will continue to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions throughout most coastal areas of Central America and the Yucatán Peninsula. A storm surge of 1.5-3 m (5-10 ft), with violent waves, remains likely in coastal areas. Significant wind damage near the eye of Iota, located in northern Nicaragua, has also been reported, and its effects will spread farther inland later on 17 November.

A Hurricane Warning remains in effect from the town of Punta Patuca, Honduras, to the town of Sandy Bay Sirpi, Nicaragua. In Nicaragua, a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect from the town of Sandy Bay Sirpi to the municipality of Bluefields; and in Honduras, from the town of Punta Patuca to the Honduras-Guatemala border, as well as for the Bay Islands.

Peru (Security threat level – 3): On 16 November 2020, the Congress of Peru appointed Francisco Sagasti – a lawmaker and former World Bank official – as the head of Congress. The appointment places him next in the line of succession to the presidency following the 15 November resignation of President Manuel Merino, whom the Congress of Peru had appointed to the presidency after it impeached and removed former President Martín Vizcarra on 9 November. Sagasti’s appointment comes in response to protests against the impeachment of Vizcarra and the subsequent appointment of Merino to the presidency. Sagasti will be sworn in as interim president on 17 November and will serve out the remainder of the current presidential term, which expires in July 2021, following presidential elections in April 2021.

United States (Security threat level – 2): A new governor-imposed face mask order in the state of Iowa mandates that as of 17 November 2020, all individuals who are 2 years of age or older are required to wear face masks in any indoor public area where they are within 6 ft (2 m) of individuals not from their own household for 15 minutes or longer. The order remains in effect until at least 10 December. Exceptions include the following: those with medical conditions preventing them from wearing a mask, anyone working alone in a space where 6 ft of separation may be maintained; anyone consuming food or drink while sitting at a restaurant or bar; athletes participating in sporting events; anyone giving a performance for an audience, religious or otherwise; participants in religious services; those who are deaf or hard of hearing and anyone attempting to communicate with the deaf or hard of hearing; individuals obtaining or providing a service that requires the removal of a face covering; those requested to remove a mask for the purposes of identity verification; or a public safety worker for whom wearing a mask would interfere with the performance of their duties. Additionally, indoor gatherings of more than 15 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 30 people are banned. Sporting events are prohibited; however, high school sporting events and spiritual or religious gatherings are exempt from the order. The same order also allows most businesses to reopen, provided they abide by social distancing and occupancy restrictions. The full text of the order is available here.

On 16 November the city council of Akron, Ohio – which is located approximately 40 mi (65 km) south of Cleveland — passed legislation prohibiting private gatherings of more than six people, effective until at least 15 December. For private gatherings of six individuals or less, face masks are mandatory at all times when a non-household member is in the same room or within 6 ft (2 m). Exceptions include the following: individuals under 10 years of age, anyone eating a meal, those with medical conditions which prohibit them from wearing a mask, when outdoors or when it is possible to maintain 6 ft of social distancing. Police officers will enforce the ordinance. Violators may be fined 250 U.S. dollars.


Thailand (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 1515 local time (0815 UTC) on 17 November 2020, police officers deployed tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in front of the parliament building in central Bangkok after the demonstrators attempted to breach barricades in front of the building. The protesters had gathered as lawmakers debated possible constitutional amendments. Earlier in the day, opposing groups of protesters briefly clashed at the site but were quickly dispersed. According to authorities, at least 43 people suffered injuries, including from tear gas inhalation and the aforementioned clashes; information regarding arrests remains unknown. After protest leaders called for an end to the day’s demonstrations, they announced plans for another protest in the city’s Ratchaprasong district at 1600 local time on 18 November.


Australia / South Korea (Security threat levels – 2 / 2): On 17 November 2020, authorities in South Australia state ordered residents who had been at several venues across the state during specific times to self-isolate and seek testing if they developed COVID-19 symptoms. The orders follow reports that South Australia has registered a cluster of 20 cases of COVID-19 related to an employee at a quarantine hotel in the state capital, Adelaide. The states of Western Australia and Tasmania as well as the Northern Territory declared South Australia a COVID-19 “hot spot” and ordered travelers from the state to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. A full list of locations and times relating to the isolation order is available here.

In South Korea, on 16 November authorities raised the social distancing level in the greater Seoul area from Level 1 to Level 1.5. Under Level 1.5 restrictions – effective as of 0000 local time on 18 November (1500 UTC on 17 November) – public gatherings of more than 100 people are banned, religious services and sporting events are limited to 30% of maximum occupancy and higher-risk facilities such as clubs and bars are required to create more distance among guests. The new orders come as authorities recorded 230 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on 16 November, the country’s ninth straight day of triple digit increases.


Greece (Security threat level – 3): On 17 November 2020, riot police officers in Athens deployed tear gas and clashed with several thousand protesters, who had gathered to mark the anniversary of the 1973 suppression of an uprising against the military junta that ruled the country. The protesters gathered in defiance of a ban on public gatherings. There were no reports of casualties. In addition to the rally in Athens, smaller protests were reported in Thessaloniki, involving approximately 250 people, with no reports of violence at those gatherings.


Somalia (Security threat level – 5): On 17 November 2020, a suicide attacker detonated an improvised explosive device at a restaurant near General Kahiye Police Academy in the Hamar Jajab neighborhood of central Mogadishu. At least five people were killed, and eight others were injured in the attack. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, although it appears consistent with similar attacks by the militant group al-Shabab.


Chile (Security threat level – 2): On 16 November 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Santiago issued a Health Alert regarding adjustments to city-level quarantine measures, which reads in part as follows:

“As of November 16, the Ministry of Health has confirmed 532,604 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 on November 16:

  • The upgrading of the following comunas from Phase 1 (Quarantine) to Phase 2 (Transition). This includes the removal of quarantine from Monday-Friday (begins Saturday, November 19 at 5:00 am): Porvenir (Region Magallanes)
  • The upgrading of the following comunas from Phase 2 (Transition) to Phase 3 (Preparation). This includes the lifting of quarantine on the weekends and holidays (begins Saturday, November 19 at 5:00 am): Coihueco (Region de Nuble), Pitrufquén (Region de la Araucanía)
  • The upgrading of the following comunas from Phase 3 (Preparation) to Phase 4 (Initial Opening). This includes the re-opening of cinemas and movie theaters, as well as indoor seating at restaurants at limited capacity (begins Saturday, November 19 at 5:00 am): Providencia (RM), Peñaflor (RM), Macul (RM), Estación Central (RM), Buin

“For a full list of measures implemented by the Chilean government, please visit our Embassy webpage on COVID-19. This webpage is updated daily, and includes a list of all comunas currently in quarantine.”

The entire U.S. Embassy alert is available here.

Eritrea (Security threat level – 3): On 17 November 2020, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice regarding travel within Eritrea, which reads in part as follows: “The FCDO now advises against all travel to the town of Senefe, and the Serha-Zalambessa and Kesadika (Adi Kuala) border crossing points.”

The U.K. FCDO also issued advice against travel to the border regions, which reads in part as follows: “The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises against all travel to: Within 25km of Eritrea’s land borders, with the exceptions of: the town of Tessenei; the border crossings at Debay Sima – Burre, plus the main paved roads leading to those crossings.”

Germany (Security threat level – 3): On 17 November 2020, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Germany issued a Demonstration Alert regarding ongoing protests across Germany, which reads in part as follows:  “The U.S. Mission in Germany advises U.S. citizens that there has been an increase in the frequency and intensity of demonstrations and counter-demonstrations, predominantly related to German government COVID 19-related restrictions across Germany. These demonstrations may continue in the coming weeks.

“As with all such gatherings, even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should avoid areas where there are known demonstrations and exercise caution if you encounter a large gathering or demonstration. We encourage U.S. citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance and situational awareness, avoid large gatherings, and observe all regulations regarding social distancing and wearing of face coverings. In the event of an emergency, U.S. citizens should contact the Police at 110 or Fire/Ambulance at 112, as appropriate.”

The full text of the Alert is available here.

Guatemala (Security threat level – 4): On 16 November 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City issued an alert regarding increasing activity at Pacaya Volcano, which reads in part as follows: “The Pacaya Volcano has been showing increased activity over the weekend. Activity is primarily focused on the southwest side of the volcano and includes avalanches, increased ash, and explosions. New lava flows were observed overnight. The Pacaya National Park, managed by the Guatemalan Tourist Institute (INGUAT) is not permitting tourist or public access at this time.”

Slovakia (Security threat level – 2): On 16 November 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Slovakia issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Bratislava, Slovakia

“Event: Large and potentially violent demonstrations against local government policies, including COVID restrictions, are expected to occur tomorrow, November 17, at approximately 1200 hours. The Government of Slovakia has not granted permission for the demonstration, which is expected to be similar to October 17 protests that involved several hundred demonstrators, some clashing with police.

“Announced gathering points include, but are not limited to, the following neighborhoods in Bratislava, Slovakia:

  • Old Town
  • Presidential Palace/Freedom Square
  • Main Train Station
  • SNP Square
  • Prime Minister’s Office

“November 17 demonstrations will likely include participation by hooligans and ultra/neo-Nazi groups. Demonstrators plan to gather at SNP Square around 1200 hours, and will likely join another gathering near the Main Train Station before merging with a third group at Hodzovo Square and Freedom Square.

“Slovak police are prepared for the protest and are advising avoidance of the area, especially given indication some protestors may come armed and ready for confrontation. Demonstrations will impact traffic.”