Worldview Security Update – July 24, 2020
24-Jul-20

AMERICAS

Bolivia / Cuba (Security threat levels – 3 / 2): On 23 July 2020, Bolivia’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal announced the postponement of the country’s general election until 18 October due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A second-round runoff — if needed — would occur on 29 November. The general election was originally scheduled for 3 May before it was postponed to 6 September. According to the president of the tribunal, the postponement is necessary because Bolivia is expected to reach its COVID-19 case peak between the end of July and early September.

As of 24 July, Cuban authorities have finished designating one of three "recovery" phases to each of the country’s provinces as part of its plan to lift coronavirus-related restrictions. Havana, the capital, remains in phase one — the most restrictive phase — under which train services remain suspended. The province of Matanzas is in phase two, while the remaining provinces entered phase three on 20 July. Under phase three, interprovincial travel is allowed to resume, select sporting events are allowed to take place, and cinemas and theaters are allowed to reopen. Face masks must be worn at all times aboard public transportation.

Lesser Antilles / Barbados (Security threat levels – 1 / 1) : As of 0800 local time (1200 UTC) on 24 July 2020, Tropical Storm Gonzalo was located approximately 930 km (580 mi) east of the southern Windward Islands and was traveling west at 24 kph (15 mph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. At that time, the storm was generating maximum sustained winds of 95 kph with higher gusts. On its current path, the storm is expected to strengthen and possibly become a hurricane before approaching the Windward Islands late on 24 July and moving across the islands on 25 July. The storm is forecast to bring strong winds and heavy rainfall of between 50-125 mm (2-5 in), with isolated maximums of up to 205 mm, to Barbados and the Windward Islands. The heavy rains could cause flash flooding in the affected areas. At present, a Hurricane Watch is in effect in Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines; a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for St. Lucia; and a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for both Tobago and Grenada, in addition to the dependencies of the latter.

United States (Security threat level – 2): As of 2300 local time on 23 July 2020 (0900 UTC on 24 July), Hurricane Douglas was located approximately 1,010 mi (1,630 km) east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii, and was traveling in a west-northwesterly direction at a speed of 18 mph (30 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. At that point, the Category 4 hurricane was generating maximum sustained winds of 130 mph with higher gusts. On its current forecast track, Douglas will decelerate, turn slightly westward and approach the Hawaiian Islands, with near-hurricane strength, on 25 July. Douglas is expected to remain near the islands the following day. Swells that Douglas generates will begin affecting parts of Hawaiian coastal areas on 25 July and could cause hazardous surf and riptide conditions. While there are no watches or warnings in effect, authorities may issue such alerts for parts of Hawaii on 24 July. Individuals and entities with interests in Hawaii should closely monitor the progression of the hurricane.

ASIA

Taiwan / Thailand (Security threat levels – 1 / 3): Taiwanese authorities announced that all travelers arriving from the Philippines will be required to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival in Taiwan beginning on 26 July 2020, due to increasing numbers of imported cases from the Philippines. Symptomatic travelers must quarantine at a government-designated facility, while asymptomatic travelers may self-quarantine at home while they await test results.

In Thailand, according to 24 July reports the government announced that it will allow approximately 100,000 migrant workers from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam to enter the country in order to compensate for labor shortages. Employers will be required to establish quarantine centers that adhere to government guidelines for all returning employees. Additionally, all workers must undergo 14 days of quarantine followed by a COVID-19 test before they may begin working.

EUROPE

Europe: Belgian authorities have mandated the use of protective face masks in public areas beginning on 25 July 2020. Police officers will increase their mask compliance checks and are authorized to fine those in violation up to 250 euros (300 U.S. dollars). Travelers may also be fined for failing to complete a questionnaire upon entry aimed at improving the government’s ability to trace contacts in case of a COVID-19 outbreak. Additionally, authorities have delayed the country’s phased lifting of coronavirus-related restrictions. Previously, Belgium was scheduled to enter phase five — which would have allowed for the resumption of shows and fairs – as of 1 August. Authorities provided no additional information as to when these restrictions will be lifted.

EU authorities announced on 23 July that face masks must be worn on all European flights and at airports. Children under the age of 6 are exempt from the mandate. Additionally, airlines must disinfect aircraft cabins at a higher frequency and enforce social distancing measures during security and check-in procedures.

Russia’s deputy prime minister announced on 24 July that some international flights will resume from airports in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Rostov-on-Don as of 1 August. Initially, air traffic will be limited to Tanzania, Turkey and the U.K. while authorities work on a list of additional countries to where air travel can resume on a mutual basis. Additionally, restrictions on the number of arriving passengers at airports in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Rostov-on-Don will be lifted.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Iraq / Kuwait / United Arab Emirates (Security threat levels – 5 / 2 / 2): On 23 July 2020, commercial flights resumed operations at select Iraqi airports, including Baghdad International Airport (ORBI/BGW), Najaf International Airport (ORNI/NJF) and Basra International Airport (ORMM/BSR). At present, flights are available to destinations in the Middle East such as Egypt’s Cairo International Airport (HECA/CAI) and Lebanon’s Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport (OLBA/BEY). Flights will resume on 1 August at airports in Iraqi Kurdistan, including Erbil International Airport (ORER/EBL) and Sulaymaniyah International Airport (ORSU/ISU). Passengers are required to present negative test results from a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19 to airport officials.

Kuwait entered the third phase of its reopening and has continued loosening coronavirus-related restrictions since 23 July. As part of the third phase, authorities revised nightly curfew hours to 2100-0300 local time (1800-0000 UTC). Officials also announced that the lockdown in Kuwait City’s al-Farwaniyah neighborhood will be lifted beginning at 0500 local time on 28 July.

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), authorities announced on 23 July that all inbound travelers must present a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test at the check-in desk prior to boarding a flight to the UAE — effective as of 1 August. The rule applies to all returning residents, citizens, tourists and transit passengers regardless of the country of origin. Likewise, travelers from the UAE going to the EU, the U.K. or any country that requires a negative COVID-19 PCR test must show their negative test results during the check-in process at the airport in the UAE prior to boarding.

Israel (Security threat level – 3): On 23 July 2020, police officers deployed water cannons against approximately 4,000 demonstrators outside the official residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Paris square in Jerusalem. Police authorities granted permission for the protests — which have been ongoing for several weeks — until 2300 local time (2000 UTC) on 23 July, and officers deployed the water cannons after 0000 on 24 July. Police officers detained 55 individuals. In view of the ongoing protests, the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem issued a Demonstration Alert to warn individuals of the collateral threat during probable upcoming gatherings. Please see the Government Warnings section below.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

South Africa (Security threat level – 4): On 23 July 2020, police officers deployed rubber bullets against municipal workers demonstrating outside Tshwane House in central Pretoria. Demonstrators burned trash bins, destroyed fire hydrants, and cut metal water pipes. At least one person was injured after a rubber bullet struck him and was taken to a nearby hospital. Members of the South Africa Municipal Workers Union were protesting for a third consecutive day to demand that workers in the Tshwane Municipal Metropolitan Area, where Pretoria is located, be paid the same as other metropolitan areas of similar rank. Authorities have since agreed to the pay increases.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Finland (Security threat level – 2): On 24 July 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Finland, which reads in part as follows: 

“Finnish borders remain closed to non-resident foreign nationals entering the country, with some exemptions. Border controls have been lifted for travel between Finland and a number of different countries and there is currently no requirement to self-isolate when entering Finland from these countries (see the Finnish Border Guard website for the current list). The restrictions on travel continue to be in force for travel between Finland and the United Kingdom and are reviewed periodically.” 

Israel (Security threat level – 3): On 23 July 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

"Over the last few weeks, there has been a marked increase in demonstrations in both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Based on media reports, demonstrations will continue to occur, some with little or no warning. Embassy personnel have been advised to maintain situational awareness and avoid large crowds, as demonstrations have the potential to quickly escalate and become volatile. Recent demonstrations have resulted in property damage, injuries to police, and multiple arrests. Israeli National Police are closely monitoring the situation and will close roads, highways, and major interchanges out of an abundance of caution.

"The Embassy strongly encourages U.S. citizens to remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness, as security incidents often take place without warning."

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