Worldview Security Update – June 23, 2020
23-Jun-20

AMERICAS

Chile / Costa Rica / Dominican Republic (Security threat levels – 2 / 3 / 3): Chile’s Ministry of Health imposed a city-level quarantine to slow the spread of COVID-19 effective as of 2200 local time on 23 June 2020 (0200 UTC on 24 June) for the following municipalities: Antofagasta (Region II), Mejillones (Region II) and Tocopilla (Region II). The quarantine will remain in effect until further notice. More than 55 municipalities in Chile are under government-ordered quarantines, totaling approximately 10 million residents out of the country’s estimated population of 18 million.

Costa Rican authorities on 22 June ordered the public to wear face masks on board public transportation and in public venues — such as banks, places of worship, restaurants and theaters — to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Employees in service sectors, such as bank tellers, cashiers, gas-station attendants and servers, must wear such coverings. Children under 2 years of age, people with respiratory conditions, and those who are unable to remove a mask without assistance are exempt. Costa Rica’s third phase of loosening coronavirus-related restrictions is set to begin on 27 June after being postponed due to an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations; the third phase was initially scheduled to begin on 20 June.

Additionally, the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Public Health ordered residents to wear face masks in public areas and in workplaces until further notice. Violators of the order face fines of up to 3,300 Dominican pesos (about 55 U.S. dollars). The government previously mandated the use of face masks on 16 April but later loosened enforcement of the measure as part of its reopening of the economy.

EUROPE

Europe: As of 23 June 2020, governments in Europe continue to revise and adjust restrictions enacted to stem the spread of COVID-19. Additional details for Germany, Portugal and Spain are outlined below.

In Germany, authorities in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia on 23 June imposed a lockdown in the Gütersloh district until 30 June. The order closes entertainment venues, such as museums, movie theaters, concert halls, bars, gyms and swimming pools. Officials ordered the shutdown in response to a cluster of COVID-19 cases at a slaughterhouse in the district.

In Portugal, officials reinstated a nightly curfew in the capital city of Lisbon amid a surge of new COVID-19 cases among people under the age of 30. Authorities ordered shops, cafes and bars to close nightly at 2000 local time (1900 UTC) and prohibited public gatherings of more than 10 people. During the 20-21 June weekend, police officers dispersed multiple parties along the shoreline in violation of the government’s previous prohibition on gatherings exceeding 20 people. The number of new cases among people ages 10-30 has jumped by nearly 90% since the government eased restrictions on businesses and public gatherings in early June, according to data from the Ministry of Health. About half of the new cases have been reported in the municipalities of Lisbon, Sintra, Odivelas, Loures and Amadora.

The Spanish government on 21 June opened the country’s borders to tourists from the EU, the passport-free Schengen Zone and the U.K. Authorities also lifted the obligatory 14-day quarantine period for individuals entering Spain. Additionally, the government stated that it seeks to decide later this week whether to lift existing coronavirus-related travel restrictions on select non-EU countries. The nationwide state of alarm, which was initially declared on 14 March, ended on 20 June.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Egypt / Saudi Arabia (Security threat levels – 4 / 3): On 23 June 2020, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly announced that a gradual loosening of restrictions imposed to control the spread of COVID-19 is underway despite a steady increase in COVID-19 cases in the country. Beginning on 27 June, social clubs, restaurants and coffee shops will reopen at 25% capacity. Mosques will be allowed to reopen for daily prayers but must close for Friday prayers. Additionally, the prime minister stated that authorities will begin enforcing the requirement that individuals wear face masks in public and that they will shut down businesses that fail to enforce masking and social distancing requirements.

Meanwhile, officials in Saudi Arabia announced disease control measures for the upcoming Hajj (religious pilgrimage) to Mecca. Authorities have capped the number of Hajj participants at 10,000 at any given time and no persons over the age of 65 will be allowed. Additionally, all pilgrims, workers and volunteers attending the Hajj will be tested for COVID-19 and have their health status monitored by authorities. Saudi authorities have asked all Hajj participants to self-quarantine after the ritual, which is set to begin at the end of July.

Saudi Arabia (Security threat level – 3): On 23 June 2020, the Saudi military stated that it intercepted at least eight explosives-laden drones and four ballistic missiles launched by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Saudi officials stated that the missiles targeted the cities of Riyadh, Jazan and Najran and were intercepted before reaching their targets. The Houthi rebels stated that the Saudi Ministry of Defense headquarters, the Saudi Ministry of Intelligence headquarters and Riyadh Air Base (OERY) were the intended targets in Riyadh. There were no reports of casualties or damage on the ground.

Analyst Comment: The latest disrupted attack underscores the persistent threat that Houthi rebel pose to Saudi Arabia, particularly to the capital Riyadh. Organizations with assets and personnel in the country should monitor the situation closely.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Namibia / Republic of Congo (Security threat levels – 2 / 3): Namibia is expected to transition to the fourth stage of the government’s five-level reopening plan on 30 June 2020 in all areas except the Erongo region — where Walvis Bay is located — due to a higher rate of COVID-19 infection in Erongo. The country is currently in the third stage of the plan. Upon entering the fourth stage, travelers from a limited number of countries deemed low risk will be permitted to enter Namibia, while restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen during normal business hours. In addition, the number of participants permitted at public gatherings will increase to 250 from 50.

In the Republic of Congo, the government extended the state of health emergency through at least 11 July. Under the terms of the state of emergency, a countrywide nightly curfew from 2200-0500 local time (2100-0400 UTC) is currently in place, international flight operations remain suspended and the country’s borders remain closed. However, certain restrictions have been eased; bars, hotels and restaurants may reopen, domestic passenger flights and road travel may resume nationwide, and in-person religious services are allowed.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Benin (Security threat level – 3): On 22 June 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Cotonou issued a Health Alert regarding mandatory testing for passengers arriving in Benin, which reads in part as follows:

"The Government of Benin is conducting mandatory COVID-19 testing of all airline passengers arriving in Benin. Tests are at passenger expense; fees of 100,000 CFA or €153 (approximately $165) must be paid in cash, and airlines may require proof of ability to pay as a condition of boarding. Travelers may be ordered to self-quarantine during that period, and those who test positive for COVID-19 may be subject to government-mandated isolation measures, including possible quarantine in a government-designated hotel at passenger expense. The Government of Benin has said it will hold passengers’ passports until testing and isolation requirements are met to ensure compliance.

"Facemasks or cloth coverings continue to be required in public, and social distancing guidelines remain in place. For more information, visit the Government of Benin’s COVID-19 website (in French)."

The entire alert is available here .

South Pacific Islands (Security threat level – 1): On 22 June 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Tonga, which reads in part as follows: “The Kingdom of Tonga has extended the Restrictions Notice effective until 8pm on Wednesday 8 July 2020. This includes a night time curfew from midnight to 5am. Travellers are advised to follow the guidance of the government of the Kingdom of Tonga.”

Switzerland (Security threat level – 2): On 23 June 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Switzerland, which reads in part as follows: 

“The Swiss government have now ended their “extraordinary situation” in response to coronavirus (COVID-19), but some measures remain in place. All contact with other individuals should be at a distance of at least 1.5 metres.

“Wearing face masks is strongly recommended when travelling on public transport, if it is not possible to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from other travellers. Wearing face masks is compulsory when attending demonstrations.

“All shops, restaurants, markets, museums and libraries are now able to reopen with social distancing measures in place. Restaurants are able to accommodate groups of more than four people. Events of up to 1000 people are permitted.”