Worldview Security Update – August 11, 2020
11-Aug-20

AMERICAS

Bolivia / Honduras (Security threat levels – 3 / 4): As of 11 August 2020, roadblocks in Bolivia, primarily in rural areas, have exacerbated shortages of medical supplies by disrupting transportation to major cities; the Bolivian Workers’ Center and groups allied to former president Evo Morales erected the blockades. Health officials in Cochabamba have warned that hospitals will run out of medical oxygen supplies for COVID-19 patients if roadblocks continue. The Bolivian government has ordered police officers and military personnel to protect key public institutions and ensure the transportation of medical supplies. Demonstrations began on 3 August to protest the Supreme Electoral Tribunal’s decision to postpone Bolivia’s general election to 18 October due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The election was originally scheduled for 3 May before being postponed to 6 September. Officials postponed the election for the second time, claiming that the country is expected to reach its COVID-19 case peak between the end of July and early September. The demonstrators demand that the general election be held on 6 September.

In Honduras, on 9 August the government extended an existing nationwide lockdown and nightly curfew until at least 23 August. Authorities, however, shortened the curfew, which is now in effect from 2200 to 0600 local time (0400 to 1200 UTC); previously, the curfew lasted from 1700 to 0900 local time. All previous restrictions remain in place, including movement restrictions based on national ID or passport numbers, operating hours for essential businesses during 0600-2000 local time, and lockdowns on Saturdays and Sundays. 

United States (Security threat level – 2): As of the morning hours of 11 August 2020, nearly 1 million homes and businesses in the Midwestern states of Illinois, Iowa and Indiana remain without electricity following the passage of a powerful storm system the previous day. The storm, with wind speeds of up to 100 mph (160 kph), traveled from eastern Nebraska across Iowa to parts of Illinois and Wisconsin, causing significant damage. The most severe damage was reported in Iowa, where a large number of vehicles and buildings were damaged; in addition, several people were injured in Marshall County. Meanwhile in Chicago, Illinois, the storm downed trees, which blocked roadways and damaged some homes. The only storm-related fatality was reported in Indiana.

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 0730 local time on 11 August 2020 (2330 UTC on 10 August), Typhoon Mekkhala made landfall in Zhangpu County in the southeastern Fujian province, bringing heavy rains and strong winds. Several roads and homes in Zhangzhou City sustained damage, and some rail services in Fujian province were suspended. Approximately 30 flights at Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport (ZSAM/XMN) were canceled. However, there were no reports of injuries. Mekkhala weakened into a tropical storm shortly after making landfall and is expected to continue weakening as it moves north before dissipating by 12 August.

AUSTRALASIA

New Zealand / China / Papua New Guinea (Security threat levels – 1 / 3 / 4): On 11 August 2020, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ordered a Level 3 lockdown of Auckland beginning at 1200 local time on 12 August (1200 UTC on 11 August) through 0000 local time on 15 August in response to four locally transmitted cases of COVID-19. Under a Level 3 lockdown, residents are required to remain home except to perform essential activities and entertainment venues such as movie theaters are closed. Supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open. The remainder of the country will enter a Level 2 lockdown during the same period. For additional details or lockdown levels and corresponding measures, please click here .

In the Chinese territory of Macao, officials announced on 10 August that they will begin reissuing individual visit scheme (IVS) permits for travelers from the adjacent mainland city of Zhuhai on 12 August. In neighboring Hong Kong, the government extended social distancing measures through 18 August; the measures were set to expire on 11 August. Under the order, gatherings of more than two people are banned, and restaurants may only allow dine-in services with a maximum of two people per table from 0500-1800 local time (2100-1000 UTC) and may offer takeaway services only from 1800-0500 local time. 

In Papua New Guinea, an ongoing lockdown in the capital Port Moresby will be lifted on 12 August. During the lockdown — put in place on 28 July — only essential businesses are allowed to remain open.

EUROPE

Belarus (Security threat level – 3): During the evening of 10 August 2020, anti-government demonstrations continued in the capital Minsk and elsewhere in Belarus, including in Gomel, Grodno and Brest, among others, to protest the official election results in which incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko was declared victor with 80% of the vote. Minsk authorities closed multiple metro stations and deployed a large contingent of security personnel. Protesters also gathered at Victory Square and blocked the intersection of Kalvaryjskaya street and First Ring road. Authorities deployed tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse protesters, who used Molotov cocktails in some instances. At least one person was killed during the unrest, but additional information regarding casualties and arrests remain unknown. In related developments, the main opposition candidate in the election, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, was detained on 10 August after filing a complaint with the election commission against the results, and later emerged in neighboring Lithuania on 11 August to be with her children. The circumstances regarding her departure remain unknown. Additionally, ongoing internet disruptions are being reported nationwide.

Analyst Comment: As a result of the recent political unrest and violence, as well as a high likelihood that the unrest will continue — increasing concerns regarding political instability — the threat levels for both Belarus and Minsk have been raised to 3 (Medium) from 2 (Low). Individuals in Belarus should avoid all large gatherings, particularly in Minsk — where the most violent confrontations have occurred.

Finland / Greece (Security threat levels – 2 / 3): On 10 August 2020, authorities in Finland announced that all travelers from countries with eight or more confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period are now required to undergo a 14-day mandatory self-quarantine upon entry, regardless of the results of a COVID-19 PCR test conducted upon arrival. Currently, the exempt countries are Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Rwanda, San Marino, Slovakia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and the Vatican City. Violators may face up to three months jail sentence or a fine. The decision follows the arrival of a flight into the country from Skopje, North Macedonia, in which 24 of the 157 travelers on board tested positive for COVID-19.

In Greece, officials declared that beginning on 17 August travelers arriving via aircraft from Belgium, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Spain or Sweden are required to present negative results from a COVID-19 PCR test administered within 72 hours prior to arrival in Greece. Additionally, those entering through the land border crossings, including Greek citizens and permanent residents, must present negative results from a COVID-19 PCR test taken in the travelers’ country of departure. All large gatherings that attract spectators are canceled, including the 85th annual Thessaloniki International Trade Fair that was scheduled for 5-13 September. These restrictions were announced a day after health officials registered a record 203 new COVID-19 cases in the country on 9 August.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Lebanon (Security threat level – 4): On 10 August 2020, Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned from his post amid continuing nationwide anti-government protests in the aftermath of a 4 August explosion at the Port of Beirut. President Michel Aoun accepted Diab’s resignation, but asked him to lead a caretaker government until Aoun either appoints a new prime minister or schedules new elections. Diab blamed the explosion on unspecified corrupt elements and blamed entrenched interests in the government for stalling economic and political reforms. In the lead- up to Diab’s resignation, there were reports of small-scale clashes between security forces and protesters outside the parliament building — where protesters threw rocks at security personnel, who responded with tear gas. At least 38 people were injured in the clashes. Meanwhile in the northern city of Tripoli, there were reports of fireworks and celebratory gunfire following Diab’s resignation.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Mali (Security threat level – 5): On 10 August 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Bamako issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“The group Mouvement du 5 Juin – Rassemblement des Forces Patriotiques has called for protests on August 11, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. Spontaneous demonstrations are also possible throughout Bamako.

“These demonstrations sometimes turn violent resulting in the burning of tires, clashes with the police, blockage on the roads and bridges, throwing of rocks at vehicles, the deployment of tear gas, and small arms fire.

“U.S. citizens are strongly advised to avoid the demonstration area and immediate vicinity on August 11, 2020. There is a curfew in effect for Embassy employees from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. daily.”