Worldview Security Update – July 17, 2020
17-Jul-20

AMERICAS

Canada / Mexico / United States (Security threat levels – 2 / 4 / 2): On 16 July 2020, the acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed to nonessential travel until 21 August in a continued effort to stem the spread of COVID-19. Cross-border trade transport and essential personnel — including health care staff and emergency officials, as well as others who transit the border daily for work or to obtain basic necessities such as food and medicine — remain exempt from the closure. The border restrictions, which do not apply to air travel, were initially imposed on 21 March and were set to expire on 21 July after being renewed on 16 June.

Chile / Mexico (Security threat levels – 2 / 4) : On 16 July 2020, Chilean officials erected checkpoints in the cities of Temuco and Padre las Casas, both of which are located in Cautín province approximately 700 km (430 mi) south of the capital Santiago, to prevent travel during the upcoming long weekend. Officials are stationed at 11 different points across the area, including Avenida Barros Arana toward the exit to Cajón, the border between Labranza and Nueva Imperial, in the areas of Huichahue and Maquehue in Padre las Casas, and on Avenida Pedro de Valdivia toward Cholchol. According to officials, only individuals with permits that allow passage through the checkpoint will be permitted into the area, although employees of companies deemed essential by the government and those seeking emergency medical attention are exempted. The checkpoints will be in place until 19 July.

In Mexico, a nightly curfew from 2230 to 0500 local time (0330 to 1000 UTC) took effect in the southern Yucatán state on 16 July due to a rising number of COVID-19 cases. Exemptions are in place for emergency vehicles. Coastal municipalities have a longer nightly curfew from 2100 to 0500 local time. Nonessential businesses must close at 1800 local time on weekdays and cannot operate at all on Saturdays and Sundays. Restaurants are allowed to offer indoor dining services from Monday through Friday, but on weekends they may only offer delivery services on the weekends. In addition, officials have banned the sale of alcohol statewide. Authorities have set up two temporary hospitals for COVID-19 patients due to a shortage of beds in state hospitals.

ASIA

India / Pakistan (Security threat levels – 3 / 5): On 17 July 2020, lockdowns went into effect in parts of the eastern Indian state of Odisha. The Ganjam, Khordha, Cuttack and Jajpur districts as well as the Rourkela Municipal Corporation will remain under lockdown until 31 July, during which residents may only leave their homes for essential purposes, such as to obtain food or medical treatment. Grocery stores in those areas will be allowed to open daily during 0600-1300 local time (0030-0730 UTC). Additionally, a partial lockdown is in effect in the Narasimharaja, Mandi Mohalla, Udayagiri and Lashkar Mohalla areas of Mysuru (Mysore) in Karnataka state until 24 July. The measure restricts residents to their homes except to acquire essential goods or services such as food or medical treatment.

In Pakistan, authorities in Sindh province — where Karachi is located — extended an existing provincewide lockdown through 15 August. Under the order, nonessential businesses may only operate Monday through Friday during 0600-1900 local time (0100-1400 UTC) and large gatherings remain banned. Additionally, the government advises residents to adhere to social distancing guidelines of at least 1 m (3 ft) apart, to wash their hands frequently and to wear face masks in public.

AUSTRALASIA

Papua New Guinea (Security threat level – 4): At 1250 local time (0250 UTC) on 17 July 2020, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck just off the northeastern coast of Papua New Guinea, approximately 195 km (120 mi) north-northeast of Port Moresby and 150 km southeast of Lae, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The quake occurred at a depth of 80 km. Moderate shaking was reportedly felt in Port Moresby and in communities as far as 200 km from the epicenter. The U.S. Tsunami Warning Center issued a temporary alert regarding potential tsunami waves within 300 km of the epicenter, but has since been lifted the warning. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage to property in urban locations. Minor damage to infrastructure in coastal villages was reported on social media platforms, although the full extent of the damage is yet unknown.

Analyst Comment: The earthquake’s moderate depth of 80 km and relatively remote epicenter may have assisted in reducing the overall impact of the quake in major urban centers, such as the capital Port Moresby. Emergency personnel are deploying to the area to assist in relief and recovery efforts.

EUROPE

Europe: On 16 July 2020, the European Council updated an existing list of countries — designated as low risk for COVID-19 transmission — from where EU member states are advised to permit nonessential travel. The council now recommends that EU countries annul bans on nonessential travel from and to Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay; Montenegro and Serbia were removed from the list, as they no longer meet the established criteria regarding their epidemiological situations to be deemed low risk. China remains subject to reciprocity, although Chinese officials continue to ban EU travelers from entering China for nonessential purposes. Travelers from the U.K. and four other countries in Europe — Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland — also remain exempt from the restrictions. The list of countries was initially introduced on 1 July and is subject to a biweekly review. Additional information outlined by the European Council, including the criteria that countries must meet to remain on the list, is available here .

Romanian authorities have extended the current nationwide state of alert until 16 August. The extension maintains coronavirus-related restrictions already in effect, which includes the mandatory use of face masks in public, limits on gatherings and the closure of indoor restaurants.

In Ukraine, the government on 16 July implemented a new system in which arriving travelers will be subject to a 14-day mandatory self-quarantine based on the COVID-19 infection rate in the country from which they departed. Countries with fewer than 55 active COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people are designated as “green.” Travelers from green zone countries will not be required to self-isolate, while those from countries designated as "red" are required to self-isolate and track their progress through the Dii Vdoma contact tracing app or quarantine in a government-designated facility. Travelers who opt to take an RT-PCR COVID-19 test will not be required to self-isolate if test results are negative. Additional information from the Ukrainian government, including a current list of countries and their color designations, is available here .

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Iran (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 2100 local time (1630 UTC) on 16 July 2020, dozens of demonstrators gathered in the city of Behbahan, located in the southwestern Khuzestan province, to protest worsening economic conditions, prompting some protesters to chant anti-government slogans and denounce political leaders. In response, police officers deployed tear gas to disperse the crowd. Unconfirmed reports suggest police officers fired live ammunition during the event. Authorities reportedly shut down internet access across Khuzestan province for nearly three hours. Authorities stated that there were no injuries or property damage during the protests, although they did not comment on whether officials arrested any protesters.

Iraq / Israel / Jordan (Security threat levels – 5 / 3 / 3): On 16 July 2020, Iraqi officials announced that airports will resume commercial flights beginning on 23 July. Reports indicate that commercial flights will resume at all federally controlled airports in the country, including Baghdad International Airport (ORBI/BGW), Erbil International Airport (ORER/EBL) Sulaymaniyah International Airport (ORSU/ ISU) and Basra International Airport (ORMM/BSR). Iraqi border crossings with Iran and Kuwait are set to reopen on 23 July.

Due to a recent surge in new COVID-19 cases, the Israeli Cabinet has approved a proposal to reimplement a number of coronavirus-related restrictions, which are scheduled to be in place as of 1700 local time (1400 UTC) on 17 July and continue through 31 August. During that time, indoor and outdoor recreational facilities will close, restaurants will operate takeout or delivery services only, and places of worship will restrict the size of services. In addition, indoor public gatherings may have no more than 10 people and outdoor gatherings no more than 20 people. Additionally, weekend curfews are in effect from 1700 local time on Fridays to 0500 local time on Sundays. During the curfew, all nonessential businesses, government offices, cultural and shopping centers, tourist attractions and public beaches will be closed, although residents will not be subject to movement restrictions. Health officials have recorded more than 1,900 new COVID-19 infections in the country over the past 24 hours. The minister of health had previously set 2,000 daily cases as the threshold for when the country would reenter a nationwide lockdown. Officials are expected to announce the indefinite closure of all academic institutions and daycare facilities later on 17 July.

In Jordan, officials announced on 16 July that they will partially reopen Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport (OJAI/AMM) for a limited number of commercial flights in August. While officials did not provide a specific date, they did indicate that the initial reopening will allow for flights from and to several European and Asian destinations.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Mali (Security threat level – 5): On 16 July 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Bamako issued a Demonstration Alert regarding planned civil disobedience, which reads in part as follows:

"Event: The group Mouvement du 5 Juin – Rassemblement des Forces Patriotiques has cancelled its demonstration scheduled for July 17, 2020 at the Monument de l’Independence, but called for continued civil disobedience on July 17. Spontaneous demonstrations are 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.

"The U.S. Embassy has advised employees to avoid unnecessary travel after 2:00 p.m. on July 17."

The full text of the Alert is available here .

United States (Security threat level – 2): On 16 July 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended a current No Sail Order for passenger cruise ships through 30 September. The ban was initially enacted on 14 March and had been set to expire on 24 July after a renewal on 9 April. The full text of the order is available here .

Analyst Comment: The CDC issued the extension as COVID-19 cases continue to increase across the U.S., particularly in the southern states of Florida and Texas, and at least 25 of the 50 U.S. states have reintroduced restrictive measures to slow the spread of the disease. A total of more than 77,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the U.S. on 16 July; officials in both Florida and Texas reported record high COVID-19 cases the same day. The death toll in the U.S. increased by nearly 1,000 during the 24-hour period.