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Worldview Security Update – April 27, 2020
27-Apr-20

AMERICAS

Americas: As of 27 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. Significant developments in Argentina, Chile and Guatemala are outlined below.

In Argentina, President Alberto Fernandez on 26 April extended the current nationwide quarantine through 10 May. Under the extension, residents must restrict travel to essential activities, although travel to Ministro Pistarini (Ezeiza) International Airport (SAEZ/EZE) is permitted if travelers show authorities proof of their itinerary at checkpoints along roadways leading to the airport. Intercity air and ground transportation remain suspended, with limited exemptions for essential services personnel or travelers to SAEZ who have a flight reservation and are authorized to travel.

In Chile, reports from 26 April indicate that authorities will issue "release certificates" to individuals who have recovered from COVID-19. Authorities note that the certificates do not indicate immunity to the virus. However, residents who possess a release certificate will be free from all quarantine or coronavirus-related restrictions.

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giamatti on 26 April extended the ongoing 1800 to 0400 local time (0000 to 1000 UTC) nationwide nightly curfew until at least 3 May.

ASIA

Asia: As of 27 April 2020, governments throughout the Asia-Pacific region continue to extend restrictions intended to limit the spread of COVID-19. In Beijing, China’s capital, local officials banned a number of unsanitary practices, while Japanese authorities extended an entry ban to travelers from 14 countries. Meanwhile, the governments of Myanmar, Nepal and Thailand extended bans on international commercial flights.

In China, authorities in Beijing on 26 April banned certain “uncivilized” behaviors, such as not covering one’s mouth or nose when coughing or sneezing, in an effort to improve public hygiene. Additional measures include a mandate that managers of public sites create 1 m (3 ft) distance markers, while restaurants must provide chopsticks and serving spoons for shared “family style” meals. Residents are required to dress neatly in public and people who may be ill must wear a face mask at all times when outside their residence. Authorities have been directed to strictly enforce the mandates, and violators face fines. Further, officials increased the fines for littering, spitting and defecating in public to a maximum of 200 yuan (28 U.S. dollars) from a previous maximum of 50 yuan.

On 27 April Japanese authorities indefinitely banned entry to travelers who come from, or who have visited any of the following countries within the previous 14 days: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belarus, Djibouti, the Dominican Republic, Kuwait, Oman, Peru, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates within the past 14 days.

In Myanmar, the Department of Civil Aviation on 24 April extended the current suspension of all international flights into and out of the country until 2359 local time (1529 UTC) on 15 May. Commercial cargo and medical evacuation flights remain exempt. Nepalese authorities on 26 April extended the ongoing nationwide lockdown and suspension of international flights until at least 7 May. Additionally, in Thailand, authorities on 27 April extended the ongoing suspension of international arrivals until 31 May. State and military aircraft, cargo flights, repatriation flights, emergency landings and technical landings in which passengers do not exit the aircraft are exempt from the ban.

EUROPE

Italy (Security threat level – 3): On 26 April 2020, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that existing COVID-19 restrictions will be eased as part of a second phase in the country’s strategy to reopen the economy. Beginning on 4 May, officials will life restrictions on businesses in the construction, logistics and manufacturing sectors, as well as associated supply chain services. Parks and other public venues will reopen provided individuals comply with social distancing guidelines. Restaurants will be permitted to open for take-away services only. Funeral services with a maximum of 15 attendees will be permitted, but religious services will remain prohibited. Additionally, masks or face coverings will be required on public transportation and in public locations where social distancing is difficult to maintain. On 18 May retail establishments, museums and various shops will be permitted to reopen, but must comply with social distancing measures. On 1 June bars, restaurants, beauty salons and other personal care businesses will be permitted to resume operations with some restrictions. Schools are not expected to reopen until at least September.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Middle East and North Africa: As of 27 April 2020, governments around the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are continuing to revise and — in some cases extend — their COVID-19-related restrictions. The latest significant developments in Israel, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are detailed below.

In Israel, El Al Airlines on 26 April extended its current suspension of commercial flight operations until at least 9 May. The airline will continue to operate a limited number of flights to Europe and the U.S., including to the cities of London, Paris and Miami, in addition to cargo and medical evacuation flights. Officials have placed at least 5,500 of the airline’s 6,000 employees on temporary furlough until at least 31 May.

In Lebanon, authorities on 24 April announced an extension to the current nationwide lockdown until at least 10 May. A nationwide nightly curfew remains in effect from 2000 to 0500 local time (1700 to 0200 UTC), during which time all nonemergency vehicle traffic is prohibited. Reports suggest that security forces have been strictly enforcing these measures. Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, authorities on 26 April relaxed the nationwide 24-hour curfew in observance of the holy month of Ramadan until 13 May. Residents will be permitted to travel outside their homes for nonessential activities from 0900 to 1700 local time (0600 to 1400 UTC) daily, and previously closed businesses will be permitted to reopen with restrictions on occupancy as well as other health measures. Individuals must comply with social distancing mandates at all times, including a ban on public gatherings of more than five people. The 24-hour curfew remains in effect for the city of Mecca, and travel between regions and major cities remains prohibited.

In the UAE, authorities in Dubai on 26 April announced the easing of movement restrictions, including the 24-hour curfew previously in effect for the districts of Al Ras and Naif. The revised curfew will be in place nightly from 2200 to 0600 local time (1800 to 0200 UTC). Authorities relaxed restrictions in Dubai on 24 April in observance of Ramadan. Residents are now permitted to travel outside the home for essential activities, such as to procure essential goods and services from 0600 to 2200 local time (0200 to 1800 UTC) without first obtaining a permit. Nonessential businesses, such as shopping malls and restaurants, will be permitted to open and must adhere to social distancing measures. Separately, Etihad airways on 25 April extended its current suspension of scheduled passenger flights through 15 May.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Cameroon / Comoros / Madagascar / Somalia / South Africa (Security threat levels – 4 / 3 / 3 / 5 / 4): As of 27 April 2020, police officers and military personnel have deployed in countries throughout Africa, in some areas using excessive force to ensure compliance with COVID-19 restrictions. For example, in Cameroon police officers used force to disperse worshipers praying at mosques during Ramadan in the West, Center and Far North regions on 25 April. Mass gatherings — including religious services — are banned and authorities have ordered mosques to close during Ramadan.

In Comoros, on the evening of 25 April police officers fired tear gas to disperse people who had gathered for evening prayers at a mosque on Anjoun Island. There were no reports of injuries during the clashes, which occurred amid the indefinite nationwide curfew in place from 2000-0500 local time (1700-0200 UTC). 

In Madagascar, on the afternoon of 25 April police officers fired warning shots to disperse dozens of informal vendors near Ampasika bridge in the capital Antananarivo. The protesters — who threw stones, burned tires and blocked roads — gathered to protest restrictions that mandate the closure of markets at 1300 local time (1000 UTC) each day. There were no reports of arrests or injuries during the clashes.

In Somalia, on the afternoon of 25 April police officers fired warning shots to disperse protesters, who set fires and blocked roads in the Bondhere district of the capital Mogadishu. There were no reports of significant injuries. The demonstrators gathered across the city in response to a shooting that occurred on the previous night, during which a police officer fatally shot two civilians while enforcing the nighttime curfew. Authorities arrested the police officer responsible for the shooting.

The South African Police Service on 26 April announced the arrests of at least 41 people for holding religious gatherings in violation of social distancing mandates. The first incident took place on 24 April in the Pretoria West district when authorities arrested 17 people gathered for Ramadan prayers. The second occurred on 25 April in the town of Masibekela in Mpumalanga province, where police officers arrested 24 worshipers gathered for Ramadan prayers. There were no reports of excessive force or injuries during the two episodes. During these arrests, a police officer allegedly made disparaging comments about the Prophet Muhammad. Authorities are investigating footage of the incident circulating in social media platforms.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Governments across Sub-Saharan Africa continue to implement public health measures and restrictions, as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa has increased to nearly 32,000 as of 27 April 2020. The most recent notable restrictions announced in Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Kenya and Liberia are outlined below.

In Côte d’Ivoire, authorities extended the nationwide state of emergency and nightly curfew — which remains in place from 2100-0500 local time/UTC — through at least 8 May. As part of the order, all international commercial flights remain suspended and nonessential travel between most cities is prohibited until further notice.

In Gabon, on 25 April the government extended the state of emergency until 9 May. The government had requested a three-month extension, but the Lower House of Parliament only approved a 15-day extension.

In Kenya, on 25 April President Uhuru Kenyatta announced an extension to current movement restrictions for the Nairobi Metropolitan area — along with Kilifi, Kwala and Mombasa counties — as well as the nationwide nightly curfew in effect from 1900 to 0500 local time (1600 to 0100 UTC) — until at least until 16 May. In addition, border security officials were ordered to increase their operational tempo and security measures in place at the country’s borders.

In Liberia, President George Weah extended the nationwide lockdown and state of emergency for an additional two weeks. The order — which allows residents to only leave their homes for essential purposes and bans all travel between the country’s 15 counties — will now remain in effect through at least 15 May. On 24 April Weah also announced a new mandate requiring all residents to wear face masks in public spaces until further notice.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Argentina (Security threat level – 3): On 26 April 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires issued a Health Alert regarding repatriation flight options following the government’s extension of the nationwide quarantine through 10 May. The update reads in part as follows:

“Event: Eastern Airlines has announced it will operate a direct flight from Buenos Aires to Miami, Florida on Wednesday, April 29, at 11:30 a.m. from Ministro Pistarini International Airport (Ezeiza) [SAEZ/EZE]. U.S. citizens interested in departing on this flight will need to book directly with Eastern Airlines. *The flight is subject to change.*

“At this time, this is the only direct way to travel between Argentina and the United States. If you need to leave Argentina, you should strongly consider booking this flight, otherwise you should be prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. Local media reports indicate the Argentine government may soon prohibit indefinitely the sale of airline tickets for regular commercial flights. Many airlines have already cancelled international service to Argentina into May.

“Please monitor https://goeasternair.com for the latest information on the flight and ticket availability. This is not a U.S. government-operated or funded flight. The Embassy is liaising with Eastern to provide travel information to U.S. citizens.”
Additional information from the Embassy including a list of required documentation and procedures for obtaining authorization to travel to the airport is available here .
Israel (Security threat level – 3): On 27 April 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its travel advice for Israel to read in part as follows: "There are currently no routine direct flights between Israel and the UK. El-Al is operating a special passenger flight to London (via Paris) on 30 April. Full details can be found on the El-Al website."

Peru (Security threat level – 3): On 24 April 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Lima issued an alert regarding repatriation flights, which reads in part as follows:

“In addition to the fully-booked Eastern Airlines April 29 flight, Eastern Airlines has obtained permission from the Peruvian government to offer a second emergency repatriation flight from Lima to Miami on Wednesday, May 6. The flight is open to U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents. Purchase tickets online at https://goeasternair.com , by calling +1 (855) 216-7601, or WhatsApp +52-1-800-953-1800.

“Private tour operator Solange Reps notified the U.S. Embassy that its charter flight from Lima to Miami scheduled for Thursday, April 30, is already fully booked. This is not a U.S. Embassy flight. Solange Reps is planning additional flights. We will continue to send regular updates and share pertinent new information about additional flights as it becomes available.”

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