AMERICAS Guatemala (Security threat level – 4): On 29 July...
Americas: As of 20 April 2020, a number of governments across the Americas continue to implement and enforce restrictions intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19, with many extending their current states of emergency. Most countries in the region remain under lockdown or quarantine measures, and affected countries continue to extend restrictions. Currently, the countries with the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the region are Brazil (39,144), Peru (15,628), Chile (10,088) and Ecuador (9,468). Significant developments in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua and Venezuela are outlined below.
As of 20 April travelers in Argentina are required to wear face masks at all times when using interprovincial road and rail transportation services. The measure also applies to public transportation services between and within the Buenos Aires metropolitan area and Buenos Aires province. Public transportation services within all other provinces and municipalities will not be required to comply with the order, which will remain in place until further notice.
In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro on 19 April greeted approximately 600 protesters who gathered in front of the army’s headquarters in the capital Brasilia to celebrate armed forces day and call for the end of state-level stay-at-home measures. One day earlier, hundreds of demonstrators had descended on the cities of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Brasilia to protest statewide lockdown measures. Protesters used trucks, cars and motorcycles to block streets throughout the cities and called for local officials to resign after imposed measures caused widespread business closures and job losses. In Rio de Janeiro, approximately 100 vehicles caused major traffic delays along Atlantica Avenue, forcing Copacabana Beach to temporarily shut down.
In Colombia, the governor of Santander department (province) on 19 April extended the nightly curfew until 31 May, despite plans by the central government to lift the nationwide curfew on 27 April. During weekdays, the nighttime curfew will take effect from 2000 to 0500 local time (0100 to 1000 UTC), while it will be enforced 24 hours per day during the weekends. Residents will be prohibited from leaving their homes during the curfew, while the department’s borders will remain closed.
In Honduras, the government extended the nationwide curfew on 19 April until 1500 local time on 26 April. During this time, residents will be permitted to leave their homes to obtain food, medicine and fuel one day a week — on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday from 0900-1500 local time (1500-2100 UTC) — based on their identification card number. In addition, all vehicular and pedestrian traffic will remain suspended on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
On 19 April Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei extended the nationwide lockdown until 26 April. A nightly curfew will continue from 1800 to 0400 local time (0000 to 1000 UTC). In addition, residents in Guatemala, Chimaltenango, Sacatepéquez and El Progreso departments are prohibited from conducting interdepartmental travel. Officials stated that an additional discussion will occur later in the week to determine if the lockdown will be extended until mid-May.
In El Salvador, at 0600 local time (1200 UTC) on 20 April members of the National Civil Police, the armed forces and the Corps of Metropolitan Agents deployed to the historic downtown center of the capital city San Salvador to implement a 48-hour sanitary cordon. Security forces began enforcing the lockdown between the streets of 25 Av. Norte, Alameda Juan Pablo II, 10 Av. Sur and Bulevar Venezuela. Under the order, residents within the area are only allowed to access markets, banks, pharmacies and hospitals; however, movement in and out of the restricted area may be limited.
In Mexico, as of 20 April residents of Mexico City, the states of Coahuila, Durango, Morelos, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Tamaulipas, Puebla, Quintana Roo and Yucatán — as well as residents of the cities of León and Chilpancingo — must wear masks while aboard public transportation. Additional requirements on the use of face masks in public areas vary by location.
In Nicaragua, the government on 17 April reportedly closed its air, land and sea borders until further notice. Further details are unavailable. Authorities in the Cayman Islands announced the measure on 18 April after Nicaraguan officials prohibited two scheduled repatriation flights for Nicaraguan nationals from landing at Augusto C. Sandino International Airport (MNMG/MGA) in Managua. Enactment of the measure follows a 15 April address to the nation in which President Daniel Ortega downplayed the severity of COVID-19 in the country and did not announce the implementation of any public health measures to combat the virus.
In Venezuela, officials on 19 April imposed a nightly curfew in the northern state of Nueva Esparta after 44 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded between 17-19 April. The curfew took effect at 2000 local time on 19 April (0000 UTC on 20 April) and will be implemented daily from 1600 to 1000 local time until further notice. Authorities noted that the curfew will remain in place until all COVID-19 cases in the region have been detected. During this time, residents are prohibited from leaving their homes except to seek medical attention.
Canada (Security threat level – 2): At approximately 2230 local time on 18 April 2020 (0130 UTC on 19 April), a gunman dressed as a police officer began shooting at homes and setting them ablaze in the rural town of Portapique, located in Nova Scotia province. Security personnel established a security cordon around Bay Shore, Five Houses and Portapique Beach roads, and advised the public to avoid the area if possible. Authorities also ordered residents in the area to lock their doors and shelter in place while the assailant drove around the area in a vehicle that had been altered to look like a police cruiser. The event developed into a highway pursuit as the gunman led officers east through the city of Truro, and then south toward Milford — located approximately 60 km (35 mi) north of Halifax — before officials subdued him; the pursuit covered a distance of approximately 80 km. At least 16 people, including a police officer, were killed in the 12-hour-long episode. Authorities later stated that the suspect died as well, but did not disclose the circumstances of his death. The gunman’s motive remains under investigation.
United States (Security threat level – 2): At approximately 1130 local time (1630 UTC) on 19 April 2020, an armed assailant hijacked a Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) bus in transit on Buckingham Road in Richardson, Texas, located approximately 15 mi (25 km) north of downtown Dallas. The assailant reportedly boarded the bus and opened fire before ordering the bus operator to drive him to an undisclosed location. A police pursuit ensued through multiple cities — including Dallas, Sachse and Rockwall — during which the gunman intermittently shot at police officers who forcibly stopped the bus with a spike strip on the President George Bush Turnpike in the city of Rowlett. Police officers arrested the suspect after he was wounded during a brief shootout; he later succumbed to his wounds at the hospital. At least three officers were injured in the event. Meanwhile, the bus driver and the only passenger onboard at the time of the hijacking suffered no injuries. The perpetrator was wanted for interrogation in the city of San Antonio in connection with his partner’s death.
United States / Canada (Security threat levels – 2 / 2): Over the weekend of 18-19 April 2020, thousands of people gathered in a number of state capitals across the U.S. to protest the ongoing stay-at-home orders and associated restrictive measures imposed to contain the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the country. At each demonstration, attendees demanded that the state governors loosen the restrictions enacted to contain COVID-19 in an effort to reopen the economy and allow nonessential businesses to resume operations On 19 April rallies took place in the states of Arizona, Colorado, Montana and Washington. In Olympia, Washington’s capital, an estimated 2,500 people gathered to participate in reportedly the largest rally in the country to demand the easing of restrictions; elsewhere in the country, approximately 200 people gathered in Helena, Montana’s capital and similar-sized rallies occurred in Denver, Colorado’s capital; and, Phoenix, Arizona’s capital. Protesters gathered in several other state capitals — including Annapolis, Maryland; Concord, New Hampshire; and, Austin, Texas — the previous day. Additional similar protests are expected to occur in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s state capital, and several other locations in the country later on 20 April. Most of the states have extended their stay-at-home orders and set them to expire in May; most recently, officials extended such orders in Indiana and Mississippi through 1 May and 27 May, respectively.
Meanwhile, on 18 April the governments of Canada and the U.S. agreed to extend the ongoing closure of their shared border for all nonessential travel for an additional 30 days. Cross-border trade and essential services personnel — including health care staff and emergency officials, as well as others who transit the border on a daily basis for work or to obtain basic necessities — such as food and medicine — remain exempt from the closure. The measure initially took effect on 21 March and was set to expire on 21 April.
Asia / Australasia: As of 20 April 2020, governments throughout the Asia-Pacific region continue to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by imposing restrictions on entry and movement. The most recent notable developments in China, Myanmar, New Zealand, South Korea, Federated States of Micronesia, Tonga, India, the Maldives, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea are outlined below.
On 18 April Chinese officials mandated that all personnel working in sectors that involve significant public contact must be tested for COVID-19 before leaving Wuhan, the original epicenter of the pandemic. Those who present negative results will be allowed to resume work upon arrival; individuals who test positive for the disease will be required to spend 14 days in quarantine before returning to work. Authorities previously lifted Wuhan’s lockdown on 8 April.
In Myanmar, authorities announced a nightly curfew from 2200 to 0400 local time (1530 to 2130 UTC) for the Yangon region on 18 April and issued a stay-at-home order for seven of the region’s 44 townships until further notice. Residents in the seven townships under stay home orders have been advised to restrict all outside movements to essential activities such as to procure food and medicine, or to seek medical care. Only one member of a residence will be permitted to leave at any time, and must wear a face mask at all times when in public.
In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on 20 April extended the nationwide lockdown and announced future plans to ease restrictions in order to resume commercial activities amid the country’s declining COVID-19 infection rates. The country will remain under a Level 4 lockdown until 2359 local time (1159 UTC) on 27 April, which prohibits residents from leaving their homes, except to obtain essential goods and services, and requires nonessential businesses and schools to remain closed. Following the suspension of the Level 4 lockdown, the country will begin to transition to a Level 3 lockdown, which will likely remain in place until 11 May. Under a Level 3 lockdown, movement will not be restricted by law; however, officials advised all residents to maintain social distancing practices to prevent further spread of COVID-19. In addition, businesses that can operate safely and within social distancing measures will be permitted to reopen.
In South Korea, officials on 19 April announced that they will continue to enforce social distancing measures until 5 May; however, they will slowly relax restrictions on low-risk businesses and public entities throughout the country. Under the revised orders, churches will be allowed to reopen and sporting matches may resume without an audience. Additionally, parks and other outdoor recreation facilities may reopen if residents continue practicing social distancing measures.
On 17 April the governor of the Yap state in the Federated States of Micronesia declared a nightly curfew from 1900 to 0600 local time (0900 to 2000 UTC) until further notice. Residents of the island will be prohibited from leaving their homes during the curfew with the exception of unspecified emergencies. Officials enacted the curfew order after at least two individuals returning from Guam refused to self-isolate. To date, no confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Yap state.
On 20 April officials in French Polynesia began easing lockdown restrictions, except for the islands of Tahiti and Moorea. Travel between all the islands remains suspended and the nightly curfew from 2000 to 0500 local time (0600 to 1500 UTC) will remain in place. However, groups of up to 20 people may gather for funerals and groups of up to 50 people may congregate for church services. Additionally, officials lifted the ban on recreational activities — including water sports, hunting and fishing. Local officials and members of the construction sector may resume work as long as proper protection protection measures are observed.
On 18 April authorities in Tonga extended the country’s border closure until 12 June. Under the order, all flights to and from the country will be prohibited with the exception of repatriation and humanitarian flights.
In India, on 19 April the government of the state Telangana extended statewide lockdown orders until 7 May. The entire country remains under a federally-mandated lockdown until at least 3 May. Meanwhile, in the state of Karnataka officials are considering lifting restrictions on 21 April in some rural areas that are less affected by COVID-19, while lockdowns in urban areas will be enforced through 3 May. Under the nationwide order, residents are advised to remain in their homes and restrict outside travel to essential activities, such as to procure food and medicine or to seek medical care. All nonessential businesses and academic institutions remain closed, and all domestic and international flights as well as all passenger rail transportation remain suspended until 3 May. Previously, officials on 18 April offered to complimentary extend all regular and e-visas set to expire between 1 February and 3 May for foreigners — currently visiting or residing in india — who submit a visa extension request at this link ; in addition, overstay penalties will be waived for travelers departing India before 17 May.
In the Maldives, authorities on 17 April extended the citywide quarantine in place in the capital Malé and the surrounding areas until at least 1 May. Under the order, residents should remain in their homes and restrict outside movement to essential activities, such as to procure food and medicine or to seek medical care. A citywide nightly curfew from 1700 to 2000 local time (1200 to 1500 UTC) remains in effect. Nonessential vehicle traffic remains restricted in addition to public transportation services — including ferries and buses — in the greater Malé metropolitan area and between Hulhumale and Vilimale. Essential services personnel — such as health care staff and security forces – are exempt from the restrictions.
On 18 April the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority extended the ongoing ban all international and domestic flights until 2359 local time (1859 UTC) on 30 April. Diplomatic and commercial cargo flights as well as those operated by Pakistan International Airlines, remain exempt from the suspension.
In Papua New Guinea, officials on 17 April imposed a nightly curfew from 2000 to 0600 local time (1000 to 2000 UTC) for two weeks in the National Capital District, Central province and Western province. During this time, residents are only permitted to leave their homes in the event of an emergency or to seek medical assistance. Furthermore, officials also announced the implementation of additional restrictions, including a ban on all domestic flights, public transportation and public gatherings of more than four people.
Europe: As of 20 April 2020, confirmed cases of COVID-19 have continued to increase across Europe. At present, there are five countries that have surpassed 100,000 confirmed cases: Spain (200,210), Italy (178,972), France (154,098), Germany (145,743) and the U.K. (121,173). Transportation services remain disrupted and restrictions continue to be extended across the continent as officials attempt to contain COVID-19.
On 18 April officials in Spain are expected to extend the nationwide state of alarm and associated lockdown measures until at least 9 May. The order continues to require residents to remain indoors and restrict outside travel to essential activities, such as to procure food and medicine or to seek medical care. Most nonessential businesses and public spaces remain closed. Additionally, officials announced plans to begin easing restrictions on 27 April.
On 19 April French authorities announced a series of preliminary steps broadly outlining the government’s strategy to ease nationwide movement restrictions and other measures currently in place. Beginning as early as 11 May, officials intend to gradually roll back a number of restrictions, including reopening academic institutions with smaller class sizes, permitting nonessential businesses to reopen to the public with social distancing guidelines — except for cafes and restaurants — a gradual resumption of international flight operations and the lifting of some entry restrictions at border crossings. Some measures will remain in effect after 11 May, including a requirement to wear face masks on public transportation and for employees to work from home if able. The government plans to announce details of its national strategy to gradually reopen by the end of April.
Middle East and North Africa: As of 20 April 2020, governments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region continue to impose new restrictions ahead of the holy month of Ramadan — set to begin on the evening of 23 April — in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19. The most recent notable developments in Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates are outlined below.
In Iran, on 18 April officials in the capital Tehran partially resumed economic activities in the city after the country’s daily death toll declined to its lowest level in the past month. “Low-risk businesses” — such as shops, factories and workshops — were granted permission to resume operations with the stipulation that residents must continue to follow social distancing practices. In conjunction with the social distancing measures, residents and business employees are required to wear masks when in public. “High-risk businesses” — including theaters, gyms, saunas and shopping centers — are expected to remain closed while a ban on all cultural, religious and sports gatherings remains in place until further notice. To date, there have been 82,211 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Iran.
In Iraq, on 19 April authorities extended the country’s suspension of all inbound and outbound international commercial flights until at least 2000 local time (1700 UTC) on 24 April. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is not currently arranging special charter flights to repatriate U.S. nationals in Iraq and advised travelers to prepare to shelter in place until commercial flight services resume. In addition, the current 24-hour curfew in effect for Baghdad and other urban areas is set to expire as early as 23 April to coincide with the start of the holy month of Ramadan. At present, there are at least 1,539 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Iraq.
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began gradually easing restrictions enacted to contain COVID-19 on 19 April after a general decline in COVID-19 cases in the country over the previous two weeks. The partial lockdown — imposed on 14 March — mandated the closure of most nonessential businesses and prohibited residents from leaving their homes except to perform essential activities. While large markets and shopping centers will remain closed, officials stated that smaller stores may begin reopening and businesses are permitted to increase staffing levels from the currently allowed 15% up to 30%. In addition, residents will be permitted to walk as far as 500 m (1,640 ft) away from their place of residence, as opposed to the previous 100 m limit. However, authorities implemented a seven-day lockdown though 24 April in the Arab-majority town of Deir al-Asad — located approximately 20 km (12 mi) east of Acre — and the surrounding area. Residents in the quarantine area, which includes the villages of Beineh, Majdal Krum and Nahaf, have been advised to remain in their homes and restrict outside movements to essential activities, such as to procure food and medicine or to seek medical care. Entry to and exit from the area is restricted to essential personnel during the lockdown.
In Lebanon, officials shortened the nighttime curfew by one hour starting 20 April. The new nightly curfew will run from 2000 to 0500 local time (1700 to 0200 UTC) until at least 10 May. During the curfew, delivery services and take-out will be prohibited, and residents will not be allowed to leave their homes unless for a medical emergency or if they obtain approval from government officials. Essential stores and restaurants will continue to operate during the day. Seperately, in the northern city of Tripoli, protesters clashed with security forces al-Nour Square on 17 April, despite the implementation of a nationwide lockdown and nightly curfew. Clashes initially broke out after the protesters refused to leave after curfew took effect at 1900 local time. Police officers used tear gas to disperse protesters who threw rocks and other projectiles during the rally against government corruption and economic hardship. There were no reports of injuries or arrests.
In Morocco, authorities on 18 April extended the ongoing nationwide “Health State of Emergency” until at least 20 May. The emergency was set to expire on 20 April. Residents are advised to remain in their homes and restrict outside movements to essential activities, such as to procure food and medicine or to seek medical care, and an “exceptional movement certificate” must be obtained from authorities prior to undertaking such travel. Residents are required to wear a face mask in public. All academic institutions, nonessential businesses and public gathering places — such as theaters and gyms — remain closed, and restaurants are permitted to operate delivery services only. In addition, a nationwide nightly curfew remains in place from 1800 to 0600 local time (1700 to 0500 UTC), during which time vehicular traffic is restricted to essential services personnel, such as health care workers and security forces. Presently, health officials have recorded at least 2,990 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Morocco.
In Saudi Arabia, officials on 18 April announced a 24-hour curfew in the Al-Faisaliah and Al-Fadhiliya neighborhoods of Al-Hofuf, located in the Eastern province’s Al-Ahsa governorate. The curfews took effect at 1500 local time (1200 UTC) on 18 April and will continue until further notice. Under the orders, residents must remain in their homes and are only allowed to leave their homes from 0600-1500 local time for essential activities, such as to procure food and medicine or to seek medical care. Furthermore, residents are prohibited from entering or exiting the neighborhoods with the exception of essential personnel in the medical, government or security sectors. Similar measures, including the 24-hour curfew, were announced the previous day in the Al-Dayer and Samtah governorates in Jizan province will remain in place until further notice. At present, health officials have recorded at least 9,362 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Saudi Arabia.
In Tunisia, on 17 April Tunisia’s National Security Council extended the current nationwide lockdown and associated movement restrictions until at least 4 May. The measures were set to expire on 19 April; officials have not stated how long the extension will remain in effect. All residents have been advised to remain in their homes and restrict outside movements to essential activities, such as to procure food and medicine or to seek medical care. A nationwide nightly curfew from 1800 to 0600 local time (1700 to 0500 UTC) remains in effect, during which time all non-emergency travel is prohibited. In addition, all ground travel between cities and governorates is restricted. Nonessential businesses, academic institutions and public gathering places remain closed. At present, health officials have recorded at least 864 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tunisia.
In Turkey, on 18 April authorities extended the ongoing travel restrictions in effect for Ankara, Istanbul and 29 other provinces and municipalities until at least 3 May. The measures were set to expire on 18 April. Entry to and exit from the affected areas will remain prohibited for all nonessential travel during this time; commercial cargo and essential personnel remain exempt from the restrictions.
Additionally, the mayor of Istanbul announced the closure of the city’s port facilities and suspended the entry to and exit from the city via maritime transportation effective from 2359 local time (2059 UTC) on 17 April until further notice. Private marine transportation within the city limits will be prohibited and commercial cargo and passenger vessels will not be permitted to dock; however, commercial vessels will be allowed to transit the city’s waterways after notifying coastal authorities and receiving authorization. Personnel aboard commercial vessels will be prohibited from disembarking at port facilities except in case of emergency.
In the UAE, on 17 April authorities in Dubai extended the current 24-hour lockdown measures until at least 25 April. Residents will be required to continue to shelter in place in their homes and restrict outside movement to essential activities, such as to procure food and medicine or to seek medical care. Prior to such travel, residents must apply for a permit through the Movement Permit System and await authorization from local authorities. On 16 April the system began issuing permits for grocery and pharmacy visits once every three days and once every five days for banks until further notice. The Emirate remains under a 24-hour curfew and nonessential outside movements remain restricted. Security forces have deployed to ensure public compliance. Essential services and workers, including health care and law enforcement personnel remain exempt. At present, health officials have recorded at least 6,781 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Somalia (Security threat level – 5): On the evening of 19 April 2020, members of the al-Shabab militant Islamist group fired at least nine mortar rounds toward the fortified Green Zone in the capital Mogadishu. According to reports, the mortar shells struck near Halane base camp, which houses several foreign facilities — including Western embassies, the U.N. headquarters and the African Union Mission in Somalia’s (AMISOM) headquarters. At least two people were injured in the attack. In addition, unconfirmed reports indicate that some of the mortar rounds struck near Aden Adde International Airport (HCMM/MGQ) — located adjacent to the Green Zone — but did not cause notable damage to the facility. Al-Shabab militants frequently launch similar attacks on the Green Zone using rocket and mortar fire and other improvised explosive devices, including an attack on 1 March that injured at least one foreign national.
Sub-Saharan Africa: As of 20 April 2020, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa has increased to more than 22,330 as governments continue to implement public health measures and restrictions in an effort to prevent further spread of the virus. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the countries with the largest numbers of confirmed cases include the following: South Africa (3,158), Ghana (1,042), Cameroon (1,017) and Côte d’Ivoire (847). The most recent notable developments in Ghana, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, South Africa and Zimbabwe are outlined below.
In Ghana, on 20 April President Nana Akufo-Addo lifted the lockdown measures that had been in place since 30 March for the largest cities — Accra, Kumasi and Tema. Akufo-Addo also urged residents to continue wearing face masks while in public. The nationwide ban on public gatherings and the closure of all schools remain in effect indefinitely, and the country’s air and land borders will remain closed through at least 4 May.
In Malawi, implementation of a three-week nationwide lockdown remains suspended following the High Court’s temporary injunction against the order on 17 April. The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) challenged the lockdown order — which was set to begin on 18 April — alleging that the initiative needed additional measures to protect the poor and other vulnerable members of society. Small-business owners and informal sector workers staged protests against the measure in cities across Malawi on 15-17 April, demanding that the government provide residents additional food aid and economic support during the lockdown. The High Court is set to review the lockdown terms on 24 April.
In Niger, violence occurred in the Lazaret area of the capital Niamey on the evening of 19 April as police officers attempted to enforce a ban on public gatherings. Police officers fired tear gas to disperse a group of people who had gathered at a mosque for evening prayers, some of whom blocked roads using burning tires and rocks. There were no reports of widespread injuries during the clashes.
In Rwanda, officials extended the ongoing nationwide lockdown until at least 30 April. Under the terms of the lockdown — which was initially imposed on 22 March — all borders are closed, a domestic travel ban is in place, all nonessential businesses are closed and nonessential employees are required to work from home or not at all. To date, there are at least 147 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the count