Worldview Security Update – August 3, 2020
3-Aug-20

AMERICAS

Jamaica / Mexico (Security threat levels – 3 / 4): On 1 August 2020, new coronavirus-related restrictions went into effect in Jamaica. Gatherings are allowed between 0600 and 2200 local time (0100-1700 UTC), and are limited to 20 attendees, who must maintain social distancing of 2 m (6 ft). Within the entertainment industry, larger events, including outdoor concerts and festivals, can take place outdoors during the same hours, but must be limited to 280 attendees. Beaches, restaurants, movie theaters and river rafting businesses must follow strict health protocols to remain open. Residents who are 75 years of age or older must remain at home, with exceptions in place to procure food or other essential supplies. Businesses may only operate from 0600 to 1900 local time Monday-Saturday and must close on Sundays. A nightly curfew from 2300 to 0500 local time and a mandate to wear face masks in public areas remain in place.

In Mexico, coronavirus-related restrictions in the states of Guanajuato, Oaxaca, Querétaro and Quintana Roo are slightly loosened as of 3 August due to their new designations as “orange light” states under Mexico’s four-tiered “stoplight” restrictions system. Under an "orange light" designation, nonessential activities must operate at a limited capacity, which include churches (30%), hotels (30%), restaurants (30%) and theaters (50%); small businesses with fewer than 30 employees have resumed operations with limited capacities. Presently, 16 of Mexico’s 32 states are under the most severe “red light” designation, while the other 16 states are under "orange light" restrictions. The federal government conducts a review of the epidemiological situation in each state on a weekly basis to determine the restriction level. However, state and local officials can apply additional restrictions on short notice, and several governors have disregarded the implementation of federal government mandates in recent months.

United States (Security threat level – 2): As of the morning of 3 August 2020, approximately 8,000 people in Southern California’s Riverside and San Bernardino counties remain under evacuation orders and advisories due to a major wildfire that has so far consumed more than 31 sq. mi (50 sq. km) of land in the area. The blaze started in Riverside County’s Cherry Valley, located approximately 85 mi (135 km) east of the city of Los Angeles, after two adjacent fires merged on the evening of 31 August. The fire has destroyed at least one home and two other structures, but there have been no reports of casualties. As of last report, the fire is only 5% contained and approximately 2,200 firefighters equipped with helicopters and air tankers continue to battle the blaze.

United States / Bahamas (Security threat levels – 2 / 2): As of 0800 local time (1200 UTC) on 3 August 2020, Tropical Storm Isaias was located approximately 100 mi (155 km) east-southeast of Jacksonville, Florida, and about 250 mi south-southwest of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, according to the National Hurricane Center. At that time, the storm was moving north at 13 mph (20 kph) and had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph with higher gusts. Isaias is forecast to pass east of Georgia state during the morning hours of 3 August and approach coastal areas of northeastern South Carolina and southern North Carolina later on 3 August. The eye of the storm is then expected to move inland over eastern North Carolina overnight on 3-4 August and pass along coastal areas of the mid-Atlantic states on 4 August. Isaias will reach the northeastern states by the evening hours of 4 August.

Heavy rainfall will continue in northwestern Bahamas into the evening of 3 August, and 1-3 in (25-75 mm) of rain may accumulate throughout the day. An additional 1-2 inches of rain is expected in eastern Florida and coastal areas of Georgia. The mid-Atlantic states, South Carolina and North Carolina are forecast to receive 3-6 inches of rain, with isolated maximums of up to 8 inches. Southeastern parts of New York and most of the New England area is expected to receive 2-4 inches of rain, with isolated maximums of up to 6 inches. The heavy rainfall will likely cause significant flash flooding in the eastern parts of South Carolina and North Carolina through 5 August. Flashfloods could also occur in areas located near or along Isaias’ forecast track in the northeastern states. The storm-generated swells that are currently affecting parts of the Bahamas and southeastern U.S. states will track to the north along the eastern U.S. coast over the next 48 hours, which could cause hazardous surf and riptide conditions.

At present, a Hurricane Warning is in effect from South Carolina’s South Santee River to North Carolina’s Surf City. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the following areas: from the border of Flagler and Volusia counties in Florida to South Santee River; north of Surf City to west of Watch Hill, Rhode Island; Chesapeake Bay south of North Beach, Maryland; Tidal Potomac River south of Cobb Island, Maryland; New York’s Long Island and Long Island Sound; and North Carolina’s Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect in areas from Watch Hill to the town of Stonington, Maine; Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, Massachusetts; and Block Island, Rhode Island. Meanwhile, a Storm Surge Warning is in effect for Edisto Beach, South Carolina, to Cape Fear, North Carolina. A Storm Surge Watch is in effect from Cape Fear to Duck, North Carolina, and Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.

Isaias struck the Bahamas on 1 August as a Category 1 hurricane with wind gusts as high as 56 mph registered at Nassau’s Lynden Pindling International Airport (MYNN/NAS); a gust of 69 mph was registered on Andros Island. The storm knocked down trees and caused power outages. Prime Minister Hubert Minnis temporarily relaxed the country’s coronavirus-related curfew in response to the storm.

ASIA

Afghanistan (Security threat level – 5): On 2-3 August 2020, fighters of the Islamic State (IS) militant group assaulted a prison in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, located approximately 150 km (90 mi) east of Kabul. The militants initiated the assault by detonating a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) outside the prison and entered the facility. The assault lasted approximately 18 hours. The Afghan army chief of staff later arrived at the site to lead the operation against the militants. The prison held approximately 1,500 inmates, including several hundred suspected members of IS. At least 29 people were killed and 50 more were wounded. Authorities stated that they killed eight attackers.

China (Security threat level – 3): As of 0900 UTC on 3 August 2020, Typhoon Hagupit was located approximately 530 km (330 mi) west of Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, and was moving northwest at 30 kph (18 mph), according to the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center. At that time, Hagupit was generating maximum sustained winds of 120 kph, with gusts of up to 148 kph. On its current track, Hagupit is forecast to make landfall in an area located between the Chinese cities of Taizhou and Wenzhou during the early morning hours of 4 August. The storm is then expected to shift northeast and pass over Shanghai during the early hours of 5 August before entering the Yellow Sea and making a second landfall in North Korea by 7 August. Authorities have ordered the evacuation of some coastal areas of China’s Fujian province, closed tourist destinations and suspended construction projects.

AUSTRALASIA

Australia / Philippines / Singapore (Security threat levels – 2 / 4 / 1): On 2 August 2020, Premier Daniel Andrews of the Australian state of Victoria instituted a nightly curfew for the Melbourne metropolitan area from 2000-0500 local time (1000-1900 UTC); the order is in effect until at least 13 September. During the curfew hours, residents may only leave their homes to seek medical care, for work or emergency reasons. A daytime stay-at-home order is also in effect for the rest of Victoria, including Melbourne. Under the order, individuals may only leave their homes to purchase necessary food or supplies, to exercise, seek medical care or accompany someone seeking medical care, or to go to work. Only one person per household is allowed to go shopping, and it must be within 5 km (3.1 mi) of their home. Daily exercise is permitted; however, no more than two individuals may gather together, and it must take place no more than 5 km from the home. Most nonessential businesses are closed. Schools and child care centers are also closed. Face coverings are now mandatory in Melbourne and across the state.

In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte announced on 2 August that Metro Manila as well as Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal provinces will be placed on modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from 4-18 August. Duterte cited increasing COVID-19 infection rates as justification for the decision. Under the order, most workplaces will be limited to 50% capacity, domestic flights and public transportation will be suspended, and residents may only leave their homes to obtain essential goods or services.

In Singapore, authorities announced on 2 August that travelers serving their mandatory 14-day quarantine period outside of government facilities are required to wear an electronic monitoring device as of 10 August. Travelers will be issued the device after clearing immigration, and must wear it during their entire 14-day self-quarantine period. Citizens, permanent residents, long-term pass holders, work pass holders and their dependents are required to wear the devices. Only children under age 12 are exempt. The devices use GPS and 4G/Bluetooth signals to determine if travelers remain in their place of residence. Leaving one’s place of residence during the quarantine period or tampering with the device will alert authorities. Officials in Singapore have been stringently enforcing home quarantine orders by conducting unannounced checks.

EUROPE

Belgium / Turkey (Security threat levels – 3 / 4): On 2 August 2020, the Belgian government announced a ban on tourist travel to several regions in the EU due to an increasing rate of COVID-19 infection. The regions include areas of Spain — such as Aragon, Navarre, Barcelona, Lleida and Catalonia — along with tourist areas in Romania and Bulgaria, Leicester in the U.K., the Mayenne department in France, and the Swiss cantons of Vaud, Valais and Geneva. Travelers who visit these areas despite the government’s ban will be required to quarantine for a 14-day period upon return to Belgium.

Officials with the Iraq Civil Aviation Authority announced on 2 August that the Turkish government suspended flights to and from Iraq due to high rates of COVID-19 transmission within Iraq. Reports indicate that Iraqi authorities have suspended flights to and from Turkey as a reciprocal gesture. It remains unknown how long the measures in both countries will remain in effect.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Middle East and North Africa: On 1 August 2020, Kuwaiti authorities expanded a ban until further notice on commercial flights to and from 31 countries and territories that the government considers high risk for COVID-19 transmission. The list includes the following locations: Armenia, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Kosovo, Lebanon, the Philippines, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Nepal, Northern Macedonia, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Serbia, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka and Syria. Kuwait has partially resumed commercial flights at 30% capacity. The same day, officials at EgyptAir — the state-owned flag carrier of Egypt — announced that flights to Kuwait are suspended until further notice.

In Iraq, commercial flight operations resumed on 1 August in the Kurdistan Region for the first time since the Iraq Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) banned all commercial flights nationwide in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All arriving passengers without a certificate for a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) taken no more than 48 hours before arrival will undertake a PCR test at their own cost. Additionally, travelers are required to sign a pledge to self-isolate for 14 days following their arrival in the Kurdistan region. All travelers departing from airports in the Kurdistan region are required to take a PCR test prior to departure. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) delayed reopening in order to implement special procedures for travelers even as the ICAA reopened airports elsewhere in Iraq on 23 July.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Gambia (Security threat level – 3): On 3 August 2020, officials announced on social media that three members of President Adama Barrow’s Cabinet have tested positive for COVID-19. The officials include finance minister, the petroleum and energy minister, and the agriculture minister. President Barrow has been self-isolating since Vice President Isatou Touray tested positive for the virus on 29 July.

Somalia (Security threat level – 5): On the afternoon of 3 August 2020, a suicide bomber detonated explosives at the Lul Yemeny restaurant near the Port of Mogadishu in the Hamar Jajab district of the capital Mogadishu. Reports indicate that the assailant detonated explosives attached to the vest he was wearing after two guards detained him at the restaurant. The blast killed at least three people, including two security guards, wounded several people inside the restaurant and damaged the building. Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, the al-Shabab militant group frequently perpetrates such attacks in Mogadishu.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Portugal (Security threat level – 2): On 31 July 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon issued a Health Alert regarding coronavirus-related restrictions, which reads in part as follows:

“Effective August 1, 2020, the Lisbon Metropolitan Area is now in a State of Contingency with the following measures.

  • Gatherings reduced to a max of 10 persons.
  • All public spaces will close at 8 p.m. except for supermarkets, gas stations, pharmacies, funeral homes, and medical centers which will close at 10 p.m.
  • Restaurants may remain open until 1 a.m. and accept new customers until midnight.
  • No consumption of alcohol in public spaces, except in restaurants, cafés, and bars.
  • Gas stations are prohibited from selling alcohol.
  • Police presence will be increased to deter large gatherings.
  • Organizers and participants of large gatherings will be fined.

“For additional information, visit the Embassy COVID 19 webpage at: https://pt.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/