ASIA China (Security threat level – 3): On 23 November...
Americas: As of 2 April 2020, a number of governments across the Americas continue to impose restrictions, including extending states of emergency, intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Most countries in the region remain under lockdown or quarantine measures. At present, the countries with the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the region are Brazil (6,988), Chile (3,404) and Ecuador (2,758). Significant developments in Argentina, Bermuda, Brazil and Costa Rica are outlined below.
In Argentina, on 1 April President Alberto Fernández extended the country’s border closures to 1-12 April. The measure continues to bar foreign nationals from entry to Argentina. However, Argentine nationals and legal residents are allowed to return to the country on a limited basis through approved repatriation flights — which were suspended on 26 March — and at seven partially reopened border crossings. Two repatriation flights per day are allowed to arrive at Buenos Aires’ Ezeiza International Airport (SAEZ/EZE) with a maximum of 700 passengers combined. Additionally, the Austral Integration, Clorinda, Cristo Redentor, Gualeguaychú, Paso de los Libres, Salvador Mazza and San Sebastián land borders are operating from 0800-1600 local time (1100-1900 UTC) to repatriate up to 500 Argentine nationals and residents per day.
On 1 April authorities in Bermuda announced that the government will declare a state of emergency in the near future, without providing a specific date. The measure will reportedly mandate a 24-hour shelter-in-place protocol for 14 days beginning on 4 April, and will replace the current nightly curfew from 2000-0600 local time (2300-0900 UTC). Under the order, residents will only be able to leave their homes to acquire food, fuel, medicine or to visit the hospital for a medical emergency. Police officers will enforce the measures. Presently, Bermuda has 32 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
In Brazil, as of 2 April the country has 6,988 confirmed cases of COVID-19 — the most in Latin America — with 250 virus-related deaths. The state governors of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo have warned the public about underreporting of confirmed cases across Brazil and have advised officials from other states to prepare for an expected influx of COVID-19 patients, recommending that they expand hospital capacity. In Rio de Janeiro, the famous Maracana soccer stadium is being transformed into a field hospital to host patients sickened with the virus — which will be one of eight temporary hospital facilities across the state. President Jair Bolsonaro publicly announced on the evening of 31 March that state governors cannot impose additional quarantine measures, citing the loss of jobs and negative effects on the poor. Bolsonaro’s declaration has deepened the infighting between the executive branch and state governors regarding how to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, which has led to confusion for local residents and businesses.
In Costa Rica, authorities announced restrictions on 1 April to curb vehicular traffic during Easter Holy Week. The measures, which will be in place between 1700 and 0500 local time (2300-1100 UTC) from 3-12 April, restrict vehicle usage according to the last digit of the vehicle’s license plate number. From 3-7 April, license plates ending in even numbers are barred from roadways on 4 and 6 April, while plates ending in odd numbers are restricted on 5 and 7 April. From 8-12 April, only vehicles with license plate numbers ending in the following digits are allowed to transit during the listed day:
• Wednesday: 0 and 1
• Thursday: 2 and 3
• Friday: 4 and 5
• Saturday: 6 and 7
• Sunday: 8 and 9
On the days that residents are allowed to use their vehicles, they may only drive to pharmacies, supermarkets and health centers. All taxis and public transportation will be temporarily suspended, except those operating on essential routes. Delivery services will be permitted.
United States (Security threat level – 2): On 1 April 2020, a number of U.S. states instituted or extended movement restrictions in an attempt to slow the rapid spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a statewide stay-at-home order scheduled to go into effect at 0000 local time on 3 April for 30 days. Similar directives for residents to remain in their homes or places of residence, except for performing essential activity — such as procuring food, medicine and health care services — or traveling to work in the sectors deemed essential, were also issued for Mississippi (from 1700 local time on 3 April to 0800 local time on 20 April) and Nevada (from 0000 local time on 2 April through 30 April). In Pennsylvania, the statewide stay-at-home order went into effect at 2000 local time on 1 April and will continue through 30 April. Additionally, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced plans to sign an executive order for a statewide shelter-in-place order (from 3-13 April), with the same exceptions as in other states, later on 2 April. Approximately 85% of the U.S. population across 38 states, the national capital Washington, D.C., and a number of additional cities and counties will be under a stay-at-home order with restrictions on nonessential activities by 3 April, as the numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to escalate significantly with increased testing across the country. New York City, particularly Queens borough, has so far recorded the highest number of such cases and related fatalities. As of the latest reports, the U.S. has recorded more than 215,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with at least 5,100 fatalities; 1,100 of those fatalities occurred over the past 24 hours.
Asia: As of 2 April 2020, governments throughout Asia continue to impose movement restrictions — such as curfews and entry bans — in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Thailand’s government announced an immediate ban on all travelers, including Thai nationals, and a nationwide curfew is expected to be announced within the next 24 hours. Hong Kong ordered the closure of bars and pubs and Pakistan announced an extension of its existing flight ban.
In Thailand, the government enacted an immediate ban on all arrivals, including Thai nationals, from 2 April until at least 15 April. A government spokesman stated that the measure will allow authorities time to prepare quarantine centers and curb the spread of COVID-19. Foreign nationals have been banned from entering Thailand since 26 March, with exceptions for those with diplomatic and work visas. Additionally, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is expected to announce a nationwide nightly curfew between 2200 and 0400 local time (1500-2100 UTC) beginning on 3 April.
Hong Kong’s government on 2 April expanded an order to close commercial establishments to include bars and pubs. Under the order — effective as of 1800 local time (1000 UTC) on 3 April — establishments will remain closed for 14 days. Violators face a six-month prison sentence and a fine of up to 50,000 Hong Kong dollars (6,450 U.S. dollars). The order comes one day after the government closed karaoke lounges, nightclubs and game parlors.
On 2 April Pakistani officials extended the suspension of international, chartered and private flights to and from Pakistan until 11 April. Diplomatic and cargo flights as well as Pakistani national carriers are exempt from the ban. Special flights will repatriate stranded Pakistani nationals, and passengers will be tested for COVID-19 and face mandatory quarantine upon arrival.
Europe: As of 2 April 2020, confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue to increase significantly across European countries. At present, there are four countries that have surpassed 50,000 confirmed cases: Italy (110,574), Spain (110,238), Germany (78,115) and France (57,780). Transportation services continue to experience significant disruptions and lockdowns continue to be extended across the continent as officials attempt to contain COVID-19.
On 1 April German officials extended nationwide restrictions, including the closure of restaurants and a ban on gatherings of more than two people to 19 April. Officials in the southern state of Bavaria also announced an extension of the state’s lockdown measures to 19 April, in order to coincide with the nationwide restrictions.
Meanwhile, various regions across Russia have implemented lockdown measures in an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19. More than 50 out of the 85 regions — including Kaliningrad, Leningrad and Tatarstan — have implemented lockdown measures and placed restrictions on travel. Officials in Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod announced the implementation of a QR-code registration system for residents attempting to conduct essential travel during the citywide lockdown.
Additionally, on 2 April Cypriot and Portuguese officials extended nationwide restrictions through 17 April. In Cyprus, officials extended the ban on commercial flights first introduced on 21 March. In Portugal, parliament approved an extension to the state of emergency declared on 18 March.
Middle East and North Africa: As of 2 April 2020, new cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were reported in Bahrain, Egypt, Djibouti, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian territories, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Meanwhile, officials in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Turkey announced new restrictions and information regarding commercial flights. In Israel, efforts to control COVID-19 were met with protests.
In Saudi Arabia, officials announced on 2 April a daily curfew in the cities of Mecca and Medina. Under the terms of the curfew, residents may leave their homes during the hours of 0600 to 1500 local time (0300-1200 UTC), for essential purposes only, such as buying groceries.
In the UAE, the Ministry of Education banned private tutoring as part of efforts to control COVID-19. Separately, officials with Emirates airline announced that limited passenger service will resume on 6 April, with the airline prioritizing outbound flights for travelers currently in the country.
In Turkey, officials with Turkish Airlines announced that the ongoing suspension of domestic and international flight service will continue until at least 1 May, citing concerns over the spread of COVID-19. Travelers should contact the airline if they have existing reservations.
In Israel, on 1 April several dozen protesters confronted Israeli police officers in the Tel Aviv suburb of Jaffa, over government efforts to enforce the COVID-19 lockdown. Reports indicate that protests broke out in the impoverished area after security forces fined a resident for breaking quarantine. Protesters blocked roads and burned tires, but there were no reports of violence. Security forces arrested four people involved in the demonstrations.
Sub-Saharan Africa: As of 2 April 2020, countries across Sub-Saharan Africa continue to impose and enforce various restrictions aimed at preventing further spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). As of 2 April, health officials have confirmed more than 4,200 COVID-19 cases across the region, including at least 1,380 in South Africa.
In Eritrea, a 21-day nationwide lockdown went into effect on 2 April. Residents have been advised to remain indoors during the lockdown period and only one member per household may travel outside to conduct essential activities, such as procuring food and medical supplies. All nonessential businesses have been ordered to close down, although banks, grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open. Security forces have deployed to enforce the lockdown.
Similarly, Sierra Leonean authorities announced a 72-hour nationwide lockdown from 5 April to the morning of 8 April. During this period, residents will be required to stay at home and to notify authorities if anyone in their household is displaying symptoms of COVID-19. President Julius Maada Bio previously announced the indefinite closure of all schools and universities nationwide — as well as the closure of all land border crossings and seaports, including transit across the Sierra Leone River/Tagrin Bay in Freetown — after the country recorded its first confirmed COVID-19 case on 31 March.
In Togo, President Faure Gnassingbé declared a nationwide state of health emergency and implemented a nightly curfew on 1 April. Under the terms of the order, previous city-specific restrictions — including suspending all schools and canceling cultural and public events of more than 15 people — have been extended to the entire country; all land borders also remain closed. Additionally, individuals must wear protective masks at markets. These measures are expected to remain in place through at least 1 May. Thus far, Togo has at least 36 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
On 1 April Chadian officials implemented a mandatory nightly curfew in N’Djamena and several provinces bordering Cameroon — including Logone Occidental, Logone Oriental, Mayo Kebbi Ouest and Mayo Kebbi Est — from 1900-0600 local time (1800-0500 UTC). The curfew is scheduled for 2-16 April. Thus far, Chad has at least seven confirmed COVID-19 cases.
On 1 April authorities in Rwanda extended the nationwide lockdown through at least 19 April. The lockdown — in effect since 22 March and initially scheduled to end on 4 April — included closing all borders, imposing a temporary domestic travel ban, and ordering the closure of all nonessential businesses and nonessential employees to work from home or not at all. Thus far, Rwanda has at least 82 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Kenya Airways announced the suspension of domestic operations in response to COVID-19 on 1 April. Previously, the airline suspended all international flights to comply with the government ban on international air travel on 27 March. Although Kenya Airways sought to resume international operations by 30 April, it is unclear if domestic or international operations will resume as planned. On 31 March, the national flag carrier requested government assistance to cover critical costs amid the COVID-19 crisis. Thus far, Kenya has at least 110 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Bahrain (Security threat level – 3): On 1 April 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued an update to its travel advice for Bahrain, which reads in part as follows: "There are direct flights from Bahrain to London Heathrow operated by Gulf Air, but at a reduced service. The schedule is under regular review and flights are subject to change or cancellation at short notice. You should check with your airline or travel company for the latest information. If you are travelling in Bahrain, or otherwise wish to return to the UK, you are strongly advised to return now, where and while there are still commercial routes available."
“Event: Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut is closed for commercial passenger flights until at least April 12. U.S. Embassy Beirut has arranged for Qatar Airways to offer a special chartered flight for U.S. citizens and U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents to depart Beirut at 1:30 a.m. on April 5. Travelers may choose between connecting flights through Doha to Miami or Dallas/Fort Worth.
“Please note that the Embassy has no plan to arrange additional flights during the airport closure.”
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