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Worldview Security Update – April 30, 2020
30-Apr-20

AMERICAS

Americas: As of 30 April 2020, a number of governments across the Americas continue to implement and enforce restrictions intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Significant developments in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico are outlined below.

On 29 April Bolivia’s interim President Jeanine Añez extended the nationwide quarantine until 10 May. According to Añez, authorities will evaluate the spread of COVID-19 in each department and municipality every seven days, beginning on 11 May, and adjust quarantine measures in those locations accordingly. The current border closures and suspension of domestic and international flights will continue until 31 May.

In Brazil, the governor of São Paulo on 29 April joined with local government officials to announce that a statewide requirement to wear face masks on public and private transportation — including buses, taxis and rideshare cars — will commence on 4 May. Transportation companies face fines of up to 3,300 Brazilian reais (approximately 615 U.S. dollars) for transporting passengers without masks. Additionally, the governor publicly warned that the current rate of new COVID-19 infections suggests that São Paulo will not reopen its economy as planned on 11 May. The nationwide death toll is doubling every five days, according to statistics from the public health agency.

In Colombia, approximately 500 Venezuelan migrants staged protests on 29 April at toll booths and partially blocked the northern Autopista Norte highway in the capital Bogota. The migrants stated that Colombian authorities prevented their convoy of approximately 12 buses from returning to Venezuela. Colombian immigration officials noted that Venezuela limits the number of returning migrants to 600 each day, and migrants must comply with the regulations. There were no reports of protest-related violence.

In Mexico, the Interior Department on 28 April urged state and municipal governments to stop erecting roadblocks and instituting curfews. Federal authorities declared that state and local governments do not have the jurisdiction to infringe on constitutional rights such as the freedom of movement. Approximately 340 municipal governments have imposed roadblocks to limit movement, with the majority of restrictions in place around coastal towns attempting to prevent travelers potentially infected with COVID-19.

United States / Canada (Security threat levels – 2 / 2): As of 30 April 2020, a number of U.S. states are lifting restrictive measures — imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19 — in order to facilitate the resumption of commercial activities. Officials in the southeastern state of Florida have announced that nonessential businesses, including restaurants and retail establishments, will resume in-person operations at 25% capacity beginning on 4 May; the statewide stay-at-home order in Florida expires on 30 April. In Texas, businesses — such as shopping malls, restaurants and theaters — are set to reopen with a 25% occupancy limit on 1 May, a day after the expiration of the statewide stay-at-home advisory. Meanwhile, several other states have extended their stay-at-home orders, with varying amendments to allow businesses to resume operations, through mid-late May. The orders in Arizona and Nevada have been extended through 15 May. Conversely, most of the states in the northeastern region continue to maintain the initially enacted restrictions. Most recently, Massachusetts extended its stay-at-home order and closure of most nonessential businesses through 18 May; in Boston, the state capital, a recommended nightly curfew from 2100-0600 local time (0100-1000 UTC) has been extended until then. The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. has exceeded 1 million and more than 61,000 individuals have succumbed to the disease.

In Canada, officials in the eastern province of Prince Edward Island on 29 April extended the existing state of emergency and associated public health measures — including health screenings at entry points and requirements for all travelers to the island to self-isolate for 14 days — through 31 May. The declaration was made a day after provincial officials introduced a four-phase plan to ease coronavirus-related restrictions beginning on 1 May. As of last report, Canada has recorded 52,685 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 3,155 fatalities.

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): On 29 April 2020, Hong Kong’s Confederation of Trade Unions (CTU) announced that on 1 May it will erect booths throughout the city to encourage residents to join labor unions. The CTU previously planned to hold a Labor Day march on 1 May, but authorities denied the request and subsequent appeal on 29 April. It remains unknown if police officers plan to remove the booths. Several protests unaffiliated with the CTU are also scheduled to take place in Causeway Bay, Mong Kok, Kwun Tong, Tai Po and Sai Ying Pun on 1 May. Violent confrontations between protesters and police officers are a possibility.

Analyst Comment: As the number COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong continues to decline, anti-government protesters have begun staging rallies throughout the city in recent days. Police officers are quick to disperse the demonstrations, and there have been no reports of violence. However, there are traditionally large demonstrations in Hong Kong on 1 May, and it is possible that any large protests could restart the violent anti-government protests that began in 2019.

China / Thailand (Security threat levels – 3 / 3): On 30 April 2020, Chinese authorities halted the country’s mandatory 14-day quarantine requirements for domestic travelers to the capital Beijing from areas that are classified as low risk of COVID-19 transmission. Travelers from medium- and high-risk areas are still required to quarantine. Local domestic travel restrictions vary across China. Meanwhile in Thailand, businesses — such as markets, restaurants and cafes, retail stores, parks, hair salons and pet groomers — will be allowed to reopen as of 3 May. Business employees are required to maintain good sanitary standards, including washing hands and disinfecting surfaces. Customers and employees are required to wear masks in public. Authorities stated that restrictions will be reevaluated and adjusted, as necessary, every 14 days.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Lebanon (Security threat level – 4): On the evening of 29 April 2020, anti-government protesters clashed with security forces in the northern city of Tripoli. The unrest allegedly began after protesters threw rocks and fireworks at soldiers in the Mina area of the city; demonstrators also burned tires in al-Nour Square. Security personnel deployed tear gas and fired rubber bullets to disperse the protesters. At least six people were injured in the clashes. Additional protests and clashes with security forces also occurred in the cities of Nabatiyeh, Sidon and Sour.

Saudi Arabia / United Arab Emirates (Security threat levels – 3 / 2): On 30 April 2020, Saudi officials lifted the ban on traveling to and from the city of al-Qatif. Saudi authorities cited success in controlling the spread of COVID-19 in the city as the reason for the action. However, officials maintain a curfew for residents from 1700 to 0900 local time (1400-0600 UTC).

In the United Arab Emirates, officials in Dubai closed approximately 20 stores in the city for failing to adhere to social distancing measures, which are a condition for reopening. Additionally, officials levied fines on two establishments and warned 165 other retail establishments to follow social distancing measures imposed to control the spread of COVID-19.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Azerbaijan (Security threat level – 3): On 29 April 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice, which reads in part as follows:

“The Azerbaijani authorities have extended the suspension of all commercial passenger flights in to and out of Azerbaijan until 31 May. If you are booked on to an AZAL flight which has been cancelled you should speak with the airline or your travel agent.”

Kenya (Security threat level – 4): On 30 April 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi issued a Health Alert regarding an upcoming charter flight, which reads in part as follows:

"Location: Kenya

"Event: Satguru Travel will operate a charter flight through Ethiopian Airlines from Nairobi to Addis Ababa. The flight is scheduled for Friday, May 8, 2020 at 1710, arriving in Addis Ababa at 1930. Seats cost USD949. For bookings, please contact Satguru Travel by email at either [email protected] or [email protected] with attention to Mr. Kishore and Ms. Nancy.

"Passengers are responsible for booking their own onward travel to the United States. Please note that travelers transiting through Addis Ababa with a long layover must go to one of the government-owned quarantine hotels at their own expense. Travelers should arrange an itinerary through the Addis airport with minimal layover."

The full text of the alert is available here .

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