Worldview Security Update – April 28, 2020
28-Apr-20

AMERICAS

Americas: On 27 April 2020, Argentine authorities suspended ticket sales for commercial flights until 1 September as part of an overall effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Until then, the sale and purchase of commercial international and domestic flights into, out of and within Argentina is prohibited; airlines are now required to receive permission from the government to operate flights. The measure builds on the current suspension of international flights and the closure of the country’s borders, which are in effect until at least 10 May, and is intended in part to prevent airlines from scheduling flights without first obtaining government authorization to operate those flights.

Following the announcement, the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires issued an updated Health Alert advising U.S. nationals currently in Argentina who wish to depart to reserve a seat on the authorized 29 April Eastern Airlines flight departing Ministro Pistarini (Ezeiza) International Airport (SAEZ/EZE) for Florida’s Miami International Airport (KMIA/MIA). The alert is available in the Government Warnings section below.

In Costa Rica, officials on 27 April announced plans to ease coronavirus-related restrictions beginning on 1 May in an effort to reopen the economy. Nonessential businesses — such as theaters, gyms, and hair salons — will be allowed to operate with specific limitations from 0500 to 1900 local time (1100 to 0100 UTC). Gym and sporting facilities will be allowed to operate to 25% of their maximum capacity, while salons and barber shops will be allowed to operate to 50% of their capacity. Meanwhile, vehicular restrictions — which are applied based on plate numbers — will remain in place during permitted operating hours from 0500-1900 local time on weekdays.

Chile (Security threat level – 2): Clashes between police officers and protesters broke out in the late afternoon of 27 April 2020 after an anti-government demonstration violated coronavirus-related social distancing restrictions near Plaza Italia in the capital Santiago. Police officers deployed water cannons and tear gas after approximately 200 protesters gathered at the scene, defying the ban against all gatherings of more than 50 people. There were no immediate reports of injuries; however, police officers arrested at least 60 people during the incident. Separately, police officials confirmed that unidentified individuals likely threw Molotov cocktails or other incendiary device at a police station during the overnight hours of 27 April in the neighborhood of Lo Hermida, located in the Santiago metropolitan region. No injuries were reported. Investigators have launched an inquiry into the incident.

ASIA

Asia / Australasia: On 28 April 2020, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha extended the nationwide state of emergency and nightly curfew until 31 May in an effort to curb further spread of COVID-19. Prayut also indicated that restrictions will be lifted in four phases, which will each be enacted at least 14 days apart. However, he did not provide any additional details, such as when officials may begin easing restrictions.

In Australia, authorities in the state of New South Wales declared that beginning on 1 May up to two adult residents per household may visit another person’s home. Additionally beaches in Sydney, the state capital, reopened for public on 28 April. New Zealand transitioned to a nationwide Level 3 lockdown from a Level 4 lockdown on 28 April after registering just one new case of COVID-19 in the country the previous day. Full details of the lockdown levels can be found here . Meanwhile, on 27 April the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh extended the ban on all commercial flights through 7 May.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Lebanon (Security threat level – 4): As of 28 April 2020, violent anti-government protests continue in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. Earlier in the day, protesters threw Molotov cocktails and set fire in at least two banks, including the Banque Libnano Francaise, in Tripoli, and security forces deployed tear gas in an effort to disperse the protesters. There were no reports of casualties due to the clashes on 28 April, which occurred amid the funeral of a man killed in the violence overnight on 27-28 April. Clashes between protesters and police officers initially began on 27 April. Protesters vandalized and set fire to multiple vehicles and banks near Tripoli’s al-Nour square and the Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood to denounce the depreciation of the Lebanese pound and the increase price of food. Police officers fired tear gas and used live ammunition to disperse the crowds, killing one of the demonstrators. Protesters threw Molotov cocktails and hand grenades at the security forces, injuring at least four officers.

Analyst Comment: The economic situation has deteriorated rapidly in Lebanon in recent weeks, after the value of the Lebanese pound precipitously decreased, to an exchange rate of 4,000 Lebanese pounds to the U.S. dollar. Protesters are particularly angry with the banking sector, as banks have imposed capital controls, limiting customers’ ability to withdraw funds.

Middle East and North Africa: As of 28 April 2020, governments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region continue to revise and — in some cases extend — their coronavirus-related restrictions. The latest significant developments in Algeria, Israel and Turkey are outlined below.

In Algeria, authorities on 27 April announced an extension of the country’s coronavirus-related measures until at least 14 May. The measures include a countrywide nightly curfew and forced closures of mosques, schools and universities. Additionally, all passenger flights and public transportation remain suspended until at least 14 May.

In Israel, authorities on 27 April announced plans to reopen primary schools, hotels and guest-houses gradually after consistent declines in COVID-19 cases in the country. The gradual reopening of public facilities will begin on 3 May. Officials announced that students registered in kindergarten through the third grades will return to school first, although those who live with high-risk individuals will not immediately be readmitted to school. Additionally, officials stated that hotels and guest houses with ground floor units will be allowed to reopen first. Government officials plan to devise a permit system for hotels to designate those which are allowed to reopen, so as to reduce confusion.

On 27 April Turkish authorities announced that they will impose a weekend curfew on 31 provinces as of 0000 local time (2100 UTC) on 1 May through 0000 local time on 3 May. As part of the curfew, markets will be open from 0900 to 1400 local time on 1 May for individuals to purchase essential goods. Additionally, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that curfews will be in place every weekend (Friday-Sunday) until the end of Ramadan on 24 May.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Sub-Saharan Africa: On 27 April 2020, Botswanian government officials extended the existing nationwide lockdown and accompanying social distancing measures until 7 May. In addition to extending the current lockdown — which was previously set to expire on 1 May — the government also announced a three-phase response to ending the lockdown by 22 May. Officials did not provide further details regarding the three-phase plan.

In Nigeria, on the evening of 27 April President Muhammadu Buhari announced new restrictions — including a nationwide nightly curfew from 2000-0600 local time (1900-0500 UTC) and a ban on all nonessential interstate travel between the country’s 36 states — which will take effect on 4 May, and remain in place until further notice. Residents will be required to wear a face mask when in public beginning on 4 May. In addition to the nationwide restrictions, Buhari extended the current lockdown measures in place for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) — where Abuja is located — as well as in Lagos and Ogun states, through 4 May. Additionally, Buhari ordered a two-week statewide lockdown effective immediately for the north-central Kano state following reports of approximately 600 deaths in the state since 14 April. State officials attributed the recent deaths to other chronic conditions, rather than complications associated with the coronavirus; however, the state has limited capacity to test and confirm cases of COVID-19.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Morocco (Security threat level – 3): On 27 April 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its travel advice for Morocco to read in part as follows:

"The British Embassy has arranged two special commercial flights from Casablanca Airport on Saturday 2 May for British tourists, short term visitors and their direct dependants to return to the UK.

  • the flights costs will be notified once confirmed
  • to be eligible for this flight, you must be normally resident in the UK. Your eligibility will be checked before your tickets are issued

"If you wish to travel, send an email to morocco.britishsupport@fco.gov.uk."

To read the full text of the warning, please click here .

Romania (Security threat level – 2): On 28 April 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest issued a Health Alert regarding Military Ordinance 10, which reads in part as follows:

"Location: Romania

"Event: On April 27, 2020, the Government of Romania announced Military Ordinance 10, which permits people over age 65 to leave their home any time during the day for professional activities, medical treatment or procedures that cannot be postponed, or to deliver agricultural products. Between 07:00-11:00 and 19:00-22:00 people over 65 may also leave their home to shop for basic necessities, to exercise or walk a pet, or for justified reasons such as caring for a minor or an elderly person with a medical condition or disability. The Ministry of Interior’s personal and employment declaration forms?are still required when traveling outside of the home.

"Military Ordinance 10 also extends the suspension of flights to and from Spain through May 11 and to and from Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, the U.S., the U.K., the Netherlands, Turkey, and Iran through May 14. Wizz Air continues to operate flights to Lisbon, Malmo, Stockholm, Oslo, and Billund. Additional one-time flights are available when demand is sufficient, but they occur with little to no notice. Please visit the Otopeni “Henri Coanda” International Airport website for a schedule of departing flights and check with airlines for updated information about your travel plans.

"President Iohannis also announced that schools and universities will not reopen in Romania until September when the next school year begins, except for students in their final years who are permitted to return to school between June 2 and June 12 to prepare for national exams."

The full text of the Health Alert can be read here .