AMERICAS Colombia / Ecuador (Security threat levels – 4 / 3): ...
Honduras / Nicaragua / El Salvador (Security threat levels – 4 / 4 / 4): As of 0300 local time (0900 UTC) on 18 November 2020, Hurricane Iota had weakened to a tropical depression and was located approximately 35 km (20 mi) northwest of the town of El Papalón, El Salvador, and 90 km east of the capital San Salvador, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. At that time, Iota was moving west-southwest at 20 kph (13 mph) and had maximum sustained winds of 55 kph with higher gusts. On its current forecast track, the storm is expected to continue moving over El Salvador and weaken into a post-tropical remnant during the course of 18 November. The Salvadoran government has evacuated 813 people from high-risk areas as a precaution. Iota is expected to produce an additional 100-200 mm (4-8 inches) of rain in portions of Guatemala, Honduras and southern Belize, with isolated maximums of up to 300 mm. Additionally, parts of Nicaragua and El Salvador are likely to receive an additional 50-100 mm of rain, with isolated maximums of up to 150 mm.
On 17 November, Iota – a tropical storm at the time — flooded areas of Honduras that were still partially underwater from Hurricane Eta, which had passed through the area less than two weeks earlier. The eye of the storm passed within 26 km (35 mi) of the capital city Tegucigalpa, felled trees and downed power lines along nearby highways. Rainfall from Iota caused the Ulúa River to overflow and flood the streets of the city of El Progreso, which is located approximately 30 km from the city of San Pedro Sula. Authorities closed all major highways until the morning of 18 November as the storm passed due to the risk imposed by overflowing rivers. Operations at Toncontín International Airport (MHTG/TGU) in Tegucigalpa remain disrupted from the storm’s passing.
Thus far, the storm has caused 10 fatalities: six in Nicaragua, two in Colombia, one in Panama and one in El Salvador. In Nicaragua, the storm severely damaged buildings in several areas as high winds tore off roofs. At least 35 towns in eastern and northern portions of Nicaragua had no phone service after Iota’s passing. Roads flooded across the capital city Managua; the El Dorado sector of the city flooded after a riverbed overflowed. In the municipality of Waslala, the Yiya River, Puerto Viejo and Vana Cruz bridges were damaged. Additionally, the Rosa Grande bridge between Siuna and Waslala collapsed. At least 62,914 people are currently in 683 shelters across the country. Authorities report that 114,200 homes are without electricity and 47,638 are without water. In Costa Rica, the National Emergency Commission reported that Iota was the direct cause of numerous floods, many of which occurred in Pacific coastal areas, and at least five landslides that blocked travel routes.
United States (Security threat level – 2): On 17 November 2020, Pennsylvania authorities imposed new statewide restrictions, which will remain in effect until further notice, following a surge in COVID-19 cases. Under the new order, face masks are required in all indoor and outdoor public areas. Additionally, as of 20 November, travelers to Pennsylvania are required to obtain a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival or self-quarantine for 14 days. Anyone traveling across state lines for work or medical care purposes is exempt from the testing and quarantining restrictions.
On 17 November officials with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) announced that 15 counties, including Denver County where the state capital Denver is located, will transition to Level Red – the current highest level on a five-tier scale – on 20 November under the state’s COVID-19 risk dial system. Under Level Red, residents are advised but not legally required to stay at home. Restaurants may only offer outdoor dining for members of the same household, takeout, curbside service or delivery services. Outdoor dining for such establishments has a curfew of 2000 local time (0300 UTC). Offices may remain open at 10% capacity, but remote work is strongly encouraged. Bars are closed, but most other non-essential businesses may remain open, with sharp occupancy restrictions. Private gatherings are prohibited.
Officials at the CDPHE also revised their COVID-19 risk dial system, which will go into effect on 20 November. The updated dial consists of six colored levels – green, blue, yellow, orange, red and purple — instead of the original four. The new version of the dial adds Level Purple, which represents extreme risk. Level Purple is invoked when hospitals are at risk of being overrun. Under Level Purple, the stay-at-home order will have legal force and non-essential in-person and indoor services will cease. More information about Colorado’s risk dial – including a list of counties at each level– is available here.
Australia (Security threat level – 2): On 18 November 2020, South Australia Premier Steven Marshall instituted a statewide lockdown and stay-at-home order – effective as of 2359 (1359 UTC) on 18 November until 24 November. Under the order, only one person per household will be allowed to leave each day to purchase essential goods. Outdoor exercise is not permitted. Restaurants will be open for delivery only. Cafes, coffee shops, food courts, pubs and other non-essential businesses will be closed. Regional travel is prohibited. Face masks are mandatory in all public areas. Child care, medical care, supermarkets and other essential services will remain open. Airports and public transport will remain operational; however, Adelaide Airport (YPAD/ADL) has halted all inbound international flights until further notice. After the initial lockdown an additional eight days of restrictions will follow. The decision comes amid a growing cluster of COVID-19 cases in the state.
Europe: As of 18 November 2020, countries throughout Europe continue to amend policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In Austria, authorities implemented a nationwide lockdown until 6 December. In Germany’s capital Berlin, police officers deployed water cannons against anti-lockdown protesters. In Hungary, authorities extended the existing nationwide state of emergency until 8 February 2021. In Slovakia, thousands of demonstrators gathered across the country to protest COVID-19 restrictions. Meanwhile, in Turkey, authorities imposed a nationwide weekend curfew until further notice.
On 17 November Austrian authorities imposed a nationwide lockdown in response to the country’s rising number of COVID-19 cases, effective until 6 December. Residents must follow a 24-hour curfew and stay indoors, with exemptions in place for visiting close family and friends, attending medical appointments, exercising, shopping for necessities or going to work. Residents must work at home if possible and all schools have been moved to online learning. All non-essential services must remain shut down. Businesses that host events with more attendees than permitted will be fined 300 euros (360 U.S. dollars). Fines are also in place for individuals who fail to obey coronavirus-related restrictions, such as maintaining one meter of social distancing (100 euros), wearing a mask (50 euros) or adhering to the nightly curfew (150 euros). Quarantine violators can be fined up to 1,450 euros and are subject to jail time.
On 18 November police officers in Berlin deployed water cannons to disperse thousands of demonstrators who had gathered near the Brandenburg Gate to protest coronavirus-related restrictions. Police officials stated that they moved to disperse the protest because most of the participants were not abiding by social distancing orders. Authorities later stated that they arrested several protesters after officers were hit by objects such as bottles and rocks.
In Hungary, authorities on 17 November extended the existing nationwide state of emergency until 8 February 2021. However, the government has not yet formally extended coronavirus-related restrictions included in the state of emergency, such as the nightly curfew during the hours of 2000-0500 local time (1900-0400 UTC) or the restrictions on nonessential businesses and gatherings; these restrictions are currently set to expire on 11 December, but are expected to be extended as well.
In Slovakia, on 17 November several thousand demonstrators gathered in front of the Presidential Palace, the Office of the Government and the Parliament Building in the capital Bratislava to protest coronavirus-related restrictions across the country. The protesters chanted slogans against Prime Minister Igor Matovic and demanded that restrictions be lifted. There were no reports of arrests, and the demonstrations – while in violation of the country’s COVID-19 restrictions – were largely peaceful. Similar demonstrations also occurred in the cities of Košice and Žilina.
In Turkey, on 18 November authorities instituted a nationwide weekend curfew from 2000-1000 local time (1700-0700 UTC) until further notice. Businesses such as barbershops, restaurants, cafes, beauty salons, markets and shopping centers must close during curfew hours. Outside of curfew hours, restaurants may only provide takeout service, and after 2000 local time they may only provide delivery service. Additionally, during weekdays residents who are 65 years of age or older may only leave their homes between 1000-1300 local time during the day, and those under 20 years of age may only leave their places of residence between 1300-1600 local time each day. Entertainment venues such as billiard halls, electronic game halls, internet cafes, movie theaters and similar businesses will remain closed until at least 31 December.
France (Security threat level – 3): During the evening of 17 November 2020, police officers deployed tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters near the National Assembly building in the capital Paris. Protesters threw objects such as bottles and debris at police officers and set fires in the streets. Demonstrators gathered earlier in the day near the National Assembly to protest a bill under debate, which if passed would criminalize the publication of images of police officers with the intent to harm them. Information regarding injuries and arrests remains unknown.
Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On 17 November 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows: “Location: Port-au-Prince
“Events: Reports of planned protests in front of the Embassy on Wednesday, November 18th, 2020. Please exercise caution when traveling in that area and around the city. The U.S. Embassy will be closed in observance of the local holiday, but emergency services available via the duty officer.”