AMERICAS Argentina / Jamaica / Panama (Security threat levels –...
Americas: As of 23 April 2020, a number of Brazilian municipalities are imposing requirements for individuals to wear face masks or cloth coverings in public, including Belo Horizonte (effective 22 April), Rio de Janeiro (effective 23 April) and Salvador (effective 24 April), due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, the new minister of health on 22 April announced that his ministry is working on a strategy to end coronavirus-related social distancing measures, including a pledge to nearly double COVID-19 testing capacity across the country. Local health experts have expressed concerns regarding easing social distancing measures, citing that a rapid increase of new COVID-19 infections is occurring in Brazil.
In Mexico, the mayor of Mexico City ordered the closure of approximately 20% of all metro, bus and light rail stations in the city until further notice. Additionally, security personnel will fine any nonessential business found violating the federal government’s mandate to remain closed.
In Venezuela, hundreds of residents of the eastern town of Cumanacoa, located in Sucre state, defied nationwide quarantine measures on 22 April and protested against food and fuel shortages exacerbated by the outbreak of COVID-19, as well as rising prices for basic consumer goods. The demonstrations, while initially peaceful, turned violent after security forces confronted the protesters. During the subsequent unrest, protesters looted food and other merchandise from a number of stores. At least seven people suffered injuries.
United States (Security threat level – 2): On the evening of 22 April 2020, severe storms swept through the southern region of the U.S. In Onalaska, Texas, located approximately 75 mi (120 km) north of the city of Houston, a tornado struck at least four subdivisions — including Canyon Park and Yaupon Cove — and destroyed dozens of homes in the area. The tornado also caused widespread power outages in Onalaska and the neighboring town of Seven Oaks. Additionally, in the Fort Worth suburb of Mansfield, heavy rains caused flash floods and inundated dozens of homes. In Oklahoma, a tornado struck the town of Madill, located approximately 120 mi south of Oklahoma City, causing damage to several buildings, including a manufacturing plant and a supermarket. A total of five people were killed and approximately 30 others suffered injuries due to the severe storms. Meteorologists forecast that the threat of severe weather remains in Atlanta, Georgia’s state capital — along with the cities of Birmingham, Mobile and Montgomery in Alabama — through the evening of 23 April.
Asia: At 2000 local time (1200 UTC) on 23 April 2020, the Sampaloc district of Manila, the capital of the Philippines, went into a complete lockdown for 48 hours due to a high concentration of COVID-19 cases in the area. While the order is in effect, residents are not allowed to leave their homes for any reason. Employees in essential sectors — such as healthcare and security — are exempt from the order. Additionally, on 22 April the mayor of Davao, the largest city on Mindanao Island, placed the communities of Barangay Leon Garcia in the Agdao district and Daliao in the Toril district under lockdown until further notice. Under the order, residents are prohibited from leaving the communities in an effort to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 to residents of the adjacent areas. The mayor closed several other communities — including Purok 8 in Barangay 21-C, and Puroks 3, 4 and 7 in Barangay 23-C — during the evening of 21 April.
In Indonesia, beginning on 24 April the government will ban all domestic air and sea travel until 1 June and 8 June, respectively, with exceptions to cargo shipments. Meanwhile, on 22 April officials in Bangladesh extended the ongoing nationwide lockdown until 5 May.
Europe: As of 23 April 2020, confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to increase across Europe. At present, there are five countries that have surpassed 100,000 confirmed cases: Spain (213,024), Italy (187,327), France (159,877), Germany (150,729) and the U.K. (134,639). Transportation services remain disrupted and restrictions continue to be extended across the continent, but several countries have begun the process of easing measures implemented to contain the spread of COVID-19.
On 23 April Armenian officials removed the ban on interprovincial movement throughout the country and eliminated all checkpoints. Officials noted that travel restrictions will be determined among individual communities based on the risk of spreading the virus. In addition, officials temporarily lifted restrictions on various sectors — including manufacturing, real estate and development, retail and construction — pending further review.
Lithuanian officials have also begun easing nationwide lockdown restrictions. Retail stores and shopping malls will be able to resume operations as soon as 23 April, and golf courses, hair salons, libraries and museums will be allowed to reopen on 27 April. The remaining lockdown restrictions are expected to be lifted on 11 May.
On 22 April Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez approved a third extension to the nationwide state of alarm, which is now in effect through 10 May. Officials also announced that on 26 April the restriction banning children under the age of 14 from leaving their residence is set to expire; under the new guidelines, children will be allowed to take short walks outside of their residence.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal extended the existing nationwide lockdown through at least 11 May. The measure includes the closure of Ukraine’s air and land borders to non-residents, the closure of nonessential businesses nationwide and the suspension of most domestic public transportation.
Middle East and North Africa: As of 23 April 2020, governments in the Middle East and North Africa 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 Bahrain, Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are outlined below.
In Bahrain, on 22 April the government extended lockdown measures until 7 May. All nonessential businesses remain closed and restaurants may only provide delivery and takeout services. Residents are advised to limit their time outdoors and limit travel to procure essential goods and services. At present, Bahrain has recorded 2,009 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
In Israel, on 22 April officials announced special lockdown restrictions for upcoming holidays in the country, including the Islamic holy month of Ramadan as well as Memorial Day and Independence Day. For the month of Ramadan, all stores, except pharmacies, in Muslim-majority towns will close nightly from 1800-0300 local time (1500-0000 UTC). On Memorial Day — which begins on the evening of 27 April and ends on 28 April — a ban exists on gatherings at military cemeteries and memorial sites. Lastly, on Independence Day, authorities will impose a curfew from 1700 local time on 28 April until 2000 local time on 29 April. Under the terms of the curfew, intercity travel is banned and individuals must remain in their neighborhoods.
In the UAE, authorities announced plans to reopen shopping malls and bus services under specific guidelines. While officials have not confirmed an official date as to when malls will fully reopen, most centers may operate at 30% capacity until further notice. Visitors will be required to observe social distancing measures — such as maintaining 2 m (6 ft) apart from one another and wearing face masks — and will undergo temperature checks upon arrival; however, individuals older than 60 years of age and children ages 3-12 will be prohibited. Meanwhile, in Abu Dhabi, authorities announced that bus services will be suspended on 23 April and resume at 0600 local time (0200 UTC) on 25 April, following a 48-hour sterilization campaign. The city’s Integrated Transport Centre (ITC) has also begun extensive cleaning and sterilization of all public modes of transport — including buses, taxis and ferries — and at all public facilities.
Sub-Saharan Africa: On 22 April 2020, Nigeria’s 36 state governors approved a measure banning all interstate travel within the country for two weeks effectively immediately in an effort to prevent further spread of COVID-19. Additionally, only essential businesses will remain open during the two-week period. Nigeria’s approach to containing the spread of COVID-19 remains largely decentralized; prior to the announcement, more than 20 states nationwide had already implemented some degree of statewide lockdown or state border closure.
In São Tomé e Príncipe, stricter quarantine measures went into effect at 1900 local time/UTC on 22 April and are expected to last until further notice. Under the new order — in addition to existing lockdown measures — residents are not permitted to travel between São Tomé and the Autonomous Region of Príncipe, and officials further limited the number of funeral attendees to 20. Authorities warned that police officers will ensure public compliance to the measures.