ASIA Afghanistan (Security threat level – 5): On 8 October...
Chile (Security threat level – 2): On 16 September 2021, authorities announced plans to reopen Chile’s borders to vaccinated foreign travelers as of 1 October, following the country’s successful vaccine drive and a decline in local COVID-19 infections. Travelers will be required to obtain a negative result from a COVID-19 PCR test taken up to 72 hours before entering Chile, undergo a mandatory five-day quarantine, have medical travel insurance, and show proof of vaccination. Officials advised travelers not to book a trip to Chile until their vaccination certificate is validated by the Chilean Ministry of Health, which can take up to one month. Unvaccinated visitors — including children — will only be allowed to enter under strict criteria, such as for humanitarian reasons. Chile’s borders have been closed to foreign travelers since April 2021. For additional information on requirements for travelers, visit Chile’s Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism.
Laos (Security threat level – 3): On 19 September 2021, authorities imposed new lockdown restrictions on the capital Vientiane due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. Under the measures — which will remain in effect until 30 September — all travel to and from Vientiane is banned, except for residents returning to the city, individuals who work in the city and those who obtain permission from the government’s COVID-19 Task Force. Residents of Vientiane are required to remain at home except for essential trips to purchase groceries, to seek medical care or for essential government work. Travel to and from the districts of Chanthabouly, Sikhottabong, Saysettha, Sisattanak, Xaythany, Hatsayfong, and Naxaythong is also banned. Meanwhile, all gatherings are banned and nonessential businesses, such as bars, cafes, clubs, spas, tourist sites and in-person dining sections at restaurants, are required to suspend operations. Authorities have established checkpoints in the city to enforce the restrictions.
Australia (Security threat level – 2): On 18 September 2021, police officers clashed with protesters in multiple Australian cities during demonstrations organized to denounce the lockdowns enacted to curb the spread of COVID-19. In Sydney, police officers set up roadblocks in several areas to prevent residents from attending unsanctioned protests. Approximately 100 people attended a rally at Sydney Park. A spokesperson for the local police department stated that about 20 people were arrested on public transportation while on their way to participate in the protest. Police officers arrested at least 32 protesters in the city. Meanwhile in Melbourne, approximately 700 protesters gathered in parts of the city as authorities deployed 2,000 police officers to the central business district and shut down public transportation in an effort to prevent large gatherings. A group of protesters breached a police cordon in the inner suburb of Richmond and marched through the streets, obstructing traffic. Individuals threw rocks and other projectiles toward police officers, who used pepper spray to disperse the crowd. According to authorities, 10 police officers suffered injuries during the violence. At least 235 people were arrested in Melbourne.
Additionally, on 20 September hundreds of union workers gathered outside the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) headquarters building in central Melbourne to oppose mandatory COVID-19 vaccination rules for the construction industry. Protesters yelled obscenities, smashed windows and threw bottles at union delegates attempting to protect the CFMEU building. Police officers initially blocked nearby streets but did not engage the protesters; however, as the crowd grew larger, police officers used pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse the demonstrators. A number of people suffered minor injuries during the violence. Following the event, the state government of Victoria ordered the closure of all construction sites in Melbourne and surrounding areas — which are currently subject to lockdown measures — for the next two weeks as of 2359 local time (1359 UTC) on 20 September.
New Zealand (Security threat level – 1): On 20 September 2021, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Auckland will transition to a Level 3 coronavirus-related lockdown — the second highest level — from the highest Level 4 alert as of 2359 local time (1159 UTC) on 21 September. The remainder of the country will remain under Level 2 restrictions. Additional details regarding alert levels and the corresponding restrictions are available here.
Russia (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 1100 local time (0600 UTC) on 20 September 2021, a gunman opened fire at Perm State University in the city of Perm, located approximately 1,300 km (800 mi) northeast of the capital Moscow. According to local authorities, the shooter entered a building at the university and began firing at students and staff. The armed man briefly barricaded himself in the building before police officers wounded and detained him. Russia’s Health Ministry stated that six students were killed and 24 others were injured in the shooting. The assailant was a student at the university. Information regarding a possible motive for the shooting is unavailable.
Spain (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 1500 local time (1400 UTC) on 19 September 2021, the Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted on the island of La Palma, located in the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off the coast of northwestern Africa. Spanish authorities ordered the mandatory evacuation of approximately 5,000-10,000 residents from four villages near the volcano, including the El Paso and Los Llanos de Aridane villages, due to the threat of lava and fires. There have been no reports of casualties; however, two dozen buildings and several roads have been destroyed. La Palma Airport (GCLA/SPA), located in the city of Santa Cruz, briefly closed on 19 September, with at least one inbound flight diverted to a nearby island. Operations have since resumed at the airport. Authorities noted that they will continue to follow the evolution of the volcanic activity.
Residents had been on alert for a possible volcanic eruption following days of increased seismic activity in the area. According to the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute, more than 25,000 earthquakes have been detected in the past nine days around the Cumbre Vieja volcano, including a magnitude 3.8 earthquake. The most recent previous eruption on La Palma, which occurred in 1971, lasted for more than three weeks and killed one person.
United Kingdom (Security threat level – 3): On 17 September 2021, the U.K. Department for Transport introduced a new system for foreign travel to determine entry requirements for England, which will replace the current traffic-light monitoring system. The new system, which is slated to go into effect at 0400 local time (0300 UTC) on 4 October, will have a single “red list, ” and foreigners — except Irish nationals and individuals with residency rights in the U.K. — who have visited locations on that list during the previous 10 days, will remain subject to an existing entry ban. In addition, current entry regulations, which include a 10-day quarantine at government-approved hotels and mandatory PCR tests on the second and eighth days of the quarantine period, will apply to individuals allowed to enter England from those locations. Meanwhile, travelers who are fully vaccinated and are arriving from locations in the rest of the world will no longer be required to possess a pre-departure negative COVID-19 test. The requirement to take an additional PCR test on or before the second day of their arrival remains in effect, although the government plans to replace the second day PCR test requirement with a lateral flow test by the end of October. Unvaccinated travelers will remain subject to the following existing regulations: must provide negative results of a PCR test taken within the last 72 hours before travel, self-isolate for 10 days after arrival and take additional PCR tests on the second and eighth days of the self-isolation period. Travelers may end isolation with a negative test taken on the fifth day under the “test to release” scheme. All inbound travelers — regardless of vaccination status or the location of origin — must complete a passenger locator form within the 48 hours preceding arrival.
Detailed information regarding the new system for international travel as outlined by the U.K. government is available here.
Lesser Antilles (Security threat level – 1): On 18 September 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice for Antigua and Barbuda, which reads in part as follows: “From 1 October all arriving and transiting passengers aged 18 and over, including returning residents and Antigua and Barbuda nationals, must provide evidence of having received at least one dose of a two-dose WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccine or a full dose of a single-dose WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccine. All COVID-19 vaccines administered in the UK are WHO-approved.”