Worldview Security Update – August 10, 2020
10-Aug-20

AMERICAS

Americas: As of 10 August 2020, governments in the Americas continue to implement or extend restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Developments in Argentina, Cuba, Guatemala and Venezuela are outlined below.

In Argentina, a nationwide lockdown is in effect until at least 16 August, with varying levels of restrictions in place in each province or municipality. The Buenos Aires metropolitan area, the province of Jujuy, and several departments in the provinces of La Pampa, Santa Cruz and Tierra del Fuego are under comprehensive quarantine restrictions that prohibit residents from leaving their homes except to obtain food and medicine or to seek medical care. Mandatory social distancing requirements and restrictions on travel, public and private gatherings and outdoor activities are in place throughout most of the country, and face masks are mandatory at all times when traveling outside the home or place of residence.

In Cuba, on 8 August authorities reimposed a citywide lockdown in the capital Havana until further notice following a recent surge in confirmed COVID-19 infections. Under the restrictions, nonessential businesses, including bars and restaurants, are closed and public gathering places such as beaches are sealed off. Public transportation is also suspended.

In Guatemala, on 9 August authorities extended ongoing nationwide coronavirus-related restrictions until at least 25 August, including the nightly curfew from 2100-0400 local time (0300-1000 UTC). Exceptions remain in place for food delivery, health care and security workers, as well as those seeking medical care. In addition, the daily ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol from 1900-0500 local time remains in place. Movement restrictions apply during curfew hours only.

In Venezuela, the government on 9 August extended the nationwide state of emergency for a fifth time, prolonging it until at least 9 September; the measure was due to expire on 10 August. Under the extension, local and nationwide restrictions on business activities, movement and public gatherings remain in effect, including a ban on interstate travel, the closure of academic institutions, a face mask requirement in public and a flexible scheme on nonessential businesses in which specific economic sectors may operate on certain “flexible weeks” and only essential businesses may operate during “lockdown weeks.” President Nicolás Maduro confirmed that a “flexible week” will occur from 10-17 August in the capital Caracas and the states of Bolívar, La Guaira, Miranda, Táchira and Zulia.  

United States (Security threat level – 2): Shortly after 0000 local time (0400 UTC) on 10 August 2020, hundreds of people gathered in downtown Chicago and began vandalizing businesses and looting luxury stores located in the city’s Magnificent Mile shopping district. Individuals engaged in confrontations with police officers through the early morning hours, during which at least 13 officers were injured. On at least one occasion, a gunman riding in a car opened fire at police officers and the bullet hit a police vehicle; police officers returned fire in response. There were no reports of injuries due to the exchange. Authorities arrested approximately 100 people during the event. The unrest followed an event, during which police officers shot and wounded a gunman in the city’s Englewood neighborhood on the afternoon of 9 August.

ASIA

India (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 1940 local time (1410 UTC) on 7 August 2020, Air India Express flight IX 1344, with 184 passengers and six crew members on board, crashed upon landing at Calicut International Airport (VOCL/CCJ), located in the southern state of Kerala. The aircraft skidded off the end of the 2,850 meter-long (9,350 ft) runway before sliding down an incline, causing the fuselage to break into two pieces upon impact. At least 18 people, including both pilots, were killed and more than 120 others were injured. The 2-year-old Boeing 737 aircraft was performing a "Vande Bharat" repatriation flight from Dubai International Airport (OMDB/DXB) at the time of the crash. Inclement weather conditions associated with heavy monsoon rain were registered in the area during landing on the tabletop runway, which sits on higher ground and has a slope at the end. An investigation to determine the cause of the crash remains underway. 

Maldives (Security threat level – 3): On 7 August 2020, authorities extended the current state of public health emergency until at least 6 September. The state of emergency, which was set to expire on 7 August, has been in effect since 12 March. In addition, a nightly curfew from 2200-0500 local time (1700-0000 UTC) is in effect for the Greater Malé area, which includes Hulhumalé , Malé and Vilimalé. Travel between the Greater Malé  area and other islands is restricted, and individuals traveling from Malé  to other areas of the country must self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving at their destination. Residents are required to wear a face mask at all times when traveling on public and private transportation. In addition, Velana International Airport (VRMM/MLE), located on Hulhulé Island, is currently operating with restricted hours and closes daily from 0000-0600 local time. Travelers must obtain a permit from officials in order to travel to the airport.

South Korea / Japan (Security threat levels – 2 / 1): As of 1700 local time (0900 UTC) on 10 August 2020, Tropical Storm 05W (Jangmi) was located approximately 90 km (55 mi) south of Chinhae, South Korea, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. At that time, the storm was moving north-northeast at 43 kph (27 mph) and was generating maximum sustained winds of 65 kph with gusts of up to 83 kph. Large waves of up to maximum 4 m (12 ft) have been recorded near the storm. Jangmi is forecast to continue tracking north-northeast at its current speed and strengthen through the Sea of Japan before passing over most of Japan’s Hokkaido Island, including the prefectural capital Sapporo, during the day on 11 August. 

Jangmi made landfall along the southern tip of Geoje Island near Tongyeong, South Korea, at approximately 1450 local time on 10 August, bringing rainfall of between 100-125 mm (4-5 in) to coastal areas — including Boseong, Goheung and Sancheong — before entering the Sea of Japan. Authorities at Jeju International Airport (RKPC/CJU) canceled 36 domestic flights as a precaution, and shipping operations at the port of Jeju were briefly suspended as the storm passed through the area.

Taiwan / China (Security threat levels – 1 / 3): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, as of 1700 local time (0900 UTC) on 10 August 2020, Tropical Storm Mekkhala was located approximately 615 km (380 mi) south-southwest of Taipei, Taiwan, and was moving north at 19 kph (12 mph). At that time, Mekkhala was generating maximum sustained winds of 65 kph, with gusts of up to 83 kph. On its current forecast path, Mekkhala will pass near southwestern Taiwan before making landfall in China’s Fujian province on the morning of 11 August. Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau has issued warnings regarding heavy rains across the island through the morning of 11 August, and security personnel have been deployed to low-lying areas in Tainan City, Kaohsiung City, and Pingtung County, to assist with potential emergency conditions. 

EUROPE

Belarus (Security threat level – 2): On 10 August 2020, the Central Election Commission officially declared incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko the winner of the 9 August presidential election with 80.23% of the vote. Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was declared the runner up with approximately 10% of the vote; however, her campaign has refused to recognize the results as legitimate, alleging widespread vote-rigging, electoral fraud and intimidation perpetrated by Lukashenko’s government. Ongoing nationwide unrest in response to the results is likely to further intensify in the near-term and security forces may respond with increasing levels of violence to suppress the demonstrations. German officials stated that they believe there were widespread instances of voter fraud, and that the EU is considering multiple responses. 

Overnight on 9-10 August, thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in Minsk and elsewhere in Belarus to demonstrate against the government and call for economic and democratic reforms. Clashes broke out between security forces — deployed in large numbers nationwide in anticipation of unrest — and protesters throughout Minsk and in major cities as exit polls showed Lukashenko leading by a wide margin. Security forces deployed stun grenades, rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon at protesters during sustained clashes that lasted until the early morning hours of 10 August. Details regarding the number of casualties or arrests are unknown due to ongoing nationwide internet outages; however, police officials reported that at least 3,000 protesters were arrested in Minsk alone. In addition, several journalists and photographers suffered injuries after being detained and beaten by riot police officers, and one protester is alleged to have been killed after being run over by a police vehicle.

Europe: As of 10 August 2020, governments in Europe continue to implement or extend restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Developments in Belgium, France, Greece and Lithuania are outlined below.

In Belgium, on 9 August municipal officials in the coastal cities of Blankenberge and Knokke-Heist closed public beaches to visitors due to reports of repeated non-compliance with mandatory social distancing and public health measures in place. Authorities stated that the decision was intended to guarantee public security and curb the spread of COVID-19 in Belgium.

In France, as of 10 August, face masks are mandatory in all indoor and outdoor public spaces in parts of the greater Paris area until at least 10 September. Face masks are currently mandatory in enclosed public spaces nationwide; the mandate in Paris will apply to outdoor public spaces and tourist attractions as well. Violators of the measure are subject to a fine of 135 euros (approximately 160 U.S. dollars) for the first offense, up to a maximum of six months imprisonment for three violations. Similar measures are in place in the cities of Biarritz, Lille and Toulouse.

Greek authorities imposed restrictive measures on the island of Poros on 7 August following an increase in COVID-19 cases on the island. Businesses are closed nightly from 2300-0700 local time (2000-0400 UTC), gatherings of more than nine people are banned in all indoor or outdoor settings and face masks must be worn in public venues. These measures are subject to review on 17 August. Additionally, the health minister is set to announce new measures countrywide later on 10 August after health officials registered a record 203 new COVID-19 cases in the country the previous day.

In Lithuania, as of 10 August, inbound travelers must complete and submit a registration form prior to arrival to support national track and trace efforts. The mandate is in addition to current entry requirements including registration with the Lithuanian National Public Health Center within 24 hours of arrival. The Lithuanian government maintains a database regarding current policies in effect for travelers to the country, which is available here .  

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Lebanon (Security threat level – 4): As of 10 August 2020, tensions remain high in Lebanon, following two consecutive days of protests over the government’s handling of an explosion at the Port of Beirut on 4 August. Four Cabinet ministers have resigned due to pressure from protesters and there are indications that Prime Minister Hassan Diab may resign later in the day. 

Large-scale anti-government demonstrations occurred over the weekend of 8-9 August, during which demonstrators clashed with security personnel in central Beirut. On 9 August demonstrators clashed with security forces outside the parliament building. Protesters threw rocks at security forces, who responded by firing tear gas. The previous day, approximately 10,000 protesters gathered in Martyr’s Square and later occupied several government buildings in the city, including those housing the foreign, environment and economy ministries; demonstrators also occupied the Banking Association headquarters. Clashes initially broke out after protesters erected blockades throughout the city, threw stones and attempted to breach a barrier surrounding parliament; police officers responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. Protesters breached the Foreign Ministry and briefly occupied the building before security forces forcibly removed them. Demonstrators later breached the economy, environment, and energy and water ministries and occupied those buildings as well, before the military forcibly removed them. According to the Lebanese Red Cross, at least 153 people were treated for injuries at the clash sites, while another 55 were hospitalized. At least one police officer was killed during the clashes after falling down an elevator shaft, according to a police spokesperson; there were no reports of civilian fatalities. 

In response to the violent protests, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) amended its travel advice for Beirut, advising against all nonessential travel to the city.  

Middle East and North Africa: As of 10 August 2020, governments throughout the Middle East and North Africa region continue to adjust their policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In Egypt, revised entry requirements will go into effect on 15 August. Authorities in Iraq and Oman extended and reduced nightly curfew hours, respectively. Meanwhile, amended entry requirements went into effect in Tunisia on 9 August. Additional details are available below.

In Egypt, on 7 August the government announced changes to its entry requirements beginning on 15 August. From that date, all travelers to the country are required to obtain a negative RT-PCR COVID-19 result certificate from a test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival in the country. However, travelers flying directly to the coastal governorates of Matrouh, the Red Sea and South Sinai are not required to obtain this certificate prior to arrival. Instead, travelers to these areas who wish to travel to other locations in Egypt must obtain a negative COVID-19 test certificate within 72 hours prior to their onward travel.

In Iraq, on 8 August the government extended an existing nationwide partial curfew through at least 15 August. The curfew is in effect nightly from 2100 to 0500 local time (1800 to 0200 UTC) Sunday through Wednesday, with a 24-hour curfew in place Thursday through Saturday. According to a statement by Higher Committee for Health and National Safety, the decision was prompted by a recent increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases.

In Oman, on 9 August an amended nationwide nightly curfew went into effect from 2100 to 0500 local time (1700 to 0100 UTC) until 15 August; the curfew hours previously ran from 1900 to 0600 local time. During this time, residents must remain in their homes, all businesses and public spaces will be closed and travel within and between governorates is prohibited. All other restrictions on businesses and public gatherings remain in place. In addition, Dhofar governorate will remain under a 24-hour lockdown. The wearing of face masks is compulsory nationwide at all times in public. Authorities have increased patrols and set up checkpoints along roadways and outside major cities to enforce compliance.

In Tunisia, the government amended its entry requirements based on a color-coded designation system on 9 August. Travelers from a “red list” country — which includes the U.S. — are generally prohibited from entry unless they are Tunisian nationals or permanent residents. Travelers from “orange list” countries may enter if they can provide a negative COVID-19 result certificate from a test taken within 72 hours prior to their travel date. All travelers permitted to enter from red list and orange list countries must observe either a seven-day quarantine in a government isolation center or self-quarantine for 14 days. Travelers from “green list” countries are permitted to enter Tunisia without restrictions or testing requirements. Additional information is available here .

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Burkina Faso / Liberia (Security threat levels – 4 / 4): As of 7 August 2020, international commercial flight operations into and out of Burkina Faso have resumed, although the country’s land and maritime borders remain closed until further notice. Furthermore, travelers to the country must obtain a negative COVID-19 result certificate from a test taken within five days prior to the travel date. Passengers must self-quarantine for 14 days on arrival at their home, residence or chosen accommodation at their own cost. During the quarantine period, health officials will conduct daily temperature screens and administer COVID-19 tests on the first, eighth and 14th day of quarantine for all travelers. 

In Liberia, the government has amended exit requirements for departing travelers as of 8 August, requiring them to obtain a negative COVID-19 test result and travel certificate prior to leaving the country. Travelers are required to take a COVID-19 test at a National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) testing site and apply for a travel certificate, both within 72 hours of departure. Travel certificates will only be issued upon receipt of a negative COVID-19 test result. Travelers within Liberia may call the national COVID-19 hotline at 4455 for additional details on obtaining the required documentation.

Niger (Security threat level – 5): At approximately 1130 local time (1030 UTC) on 9 August 2020, gunmen riding on motorcycles attacked a group of aid workers near the town of Koure, located approximately 60 km (40 mi) southeast of the capital Niamey. The attackers killed eight people, including six French nationals and two Nigerien nationals. The deceased French nationals were affiliated with the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED), a French humanitarian organization. While no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, several Islamist militant groups operate in Niger; attacks perpetrated by groups linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State have recently increased in the Sahel region as a whole.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Burkina Faso (Security threat level – 4): On 9 August 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Two armed robberies involving multiple assailants were reported in Bangr Weogo park over the past three days in daylight hours. Exercise caution if visiting Bangr Weogo park.”

Morocco (Security threat level – 3): On 7 August 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Rabat issued a Health Alert regarding the extension of Morocco’s state of emergency, which reads in part as follows:

“The Government of Morocco has extended the country’s “Health State of Emergency” until September 10. The country continues to classify regions as Zone 1 (less restricted movements and activities) or Zone 2 (greater restrictions on movements and activities).

“U.S. citizens should monitor social media and local press reports for more information regarding your specific location/zone. Those seeking to travel between zones should apply for permission from local authorities. Ensure you are familiar with local requirements prior to travel between regions and remember to follow the instructions of local authorities.

“The Government of Morocco has not announced when it will reopen the country’s borders, nor has it announced how long foreign citizens may remain in Morocco without a visa before facing a fine. All regularly scheduled international commercial flights remain suspended. The only flights in/out of Morocco are special operation flights taking place on Royal Air Maroc (RAM), Air France, and Air Arabia. Currently there is no confirmation of how long the special operation flights will continue to operate. U.S. citizens wishing to return to the United States should book directly with RAM.”

Romania (Security threat level – 2): On 10 August 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

"Location: Piata Victoriei, Bucharest, Romania

"Event: Protests are expected to occur in and around Piata Victoriei this evening, August 10, 2020, starting around 1700. The protests are focused against the Romanian Government, its policies, and the violence that occurred during the August 10, 2018 protest.

"The Romanian government and law enforcement entities are aware of the impending protest and are prepared to take all appropriate security measures. This will include road closures around Piata Victoriei likely before, during, and after the protest.

"Due to COVID-19, Romanian law enforcement does not expect the same large numbers as years past.

"Protests and demonstrations are often unpredictable. U.S. citizens are advised to avoid Piata Victoriei and the surrounding area during the above time. It is expected that normal pedestrian and vehicular traffic in these areas will be adversely affected. We do not expect these demonstrations to impact embassy operations."

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

Thailand (Security threat level – 3): On 10 August 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its travel advice regarding protests, which reads in part as follows: "Activists are expected to hold rallies across Thailand in the coming weeks, including in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Lampang, Nakhon Pathom and Phitsanulok. In Bangkok, potential rally locations include the Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Avenue, the Ratchaphrasong Shopping District Skywalk near the MBK building and Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre, and university campuses. Rallies may disrupt traffic and commercial activity, and there may be a heightened security presence."