Worldview Security Update – March 16, 2020
16-Mar-20

AMERICAS

Americas: As of 16 March 2020, a number of major U.S. cities are employing precautionary measures — such as shutting down schools, public sites and entertainment venues — in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Several urban centers, including Los Angeles and New York, have closed schools; in New York City, all public schools will close from 16 March through at least 20 April. The U.S. states of Connecticut, New Jersey and New York are set to impose new restrictions as of 2000 local time on 16 March (0000 UTC on 17 March) that include shutting down entertainment venues — such as gyms, movie theaters and casinos. Commercial establishments selling food are allowed to provide carryout and delivery services only. Additionally, all bars and restaurants in the states of Ohio and Washington will be closed with the same exceptions. In Las Vegas, major hotels and casinos in The Strip will shut down as of 17 March. Most notably, on 15 March the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that individuals avoid all gatherings of more than 50 individuals or more throughout the U.S. for the next eight weeks. The U.S. has reported at least 3,774 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country.

In Central America, Panamanian and Honduran authorities announced on 15 March that land, air and sea borders will be closed to foreign nationals for their respective countries beginning at 2359 local time on 16 March (0459 UTC on 17 March). In Panama, only citizens and legal residents of Panama will be allowed to enter the country after these measures are in place; however, food and medical supplies will continue to be allowed into Panama. Authorities are also closing businesses in the country, with the exception of supermarkets, pharmacies and medical centers. Restaurants will be able to provide food for carryout and delivery only. In Honduras, borders will remain open only for cargo. All public events have been canceled and all businesses have been closed with the exception of supermarkets, pharmacies, hospitals, hotels, gas stations and banks. While there have been 43 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Panama, only three confirmed cases have been recorded in Honduras.

In Guatemala, President Alejandro Giammattei announced that U.S. and Canadian nationals will not be allowed to enter Guatemala beginning on 15 March over COVID-19 concerns. Authorities had previously banned travelers who had been in China, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, South Korea or Spain in the past 30 days from entering Guatemala. Guatemala has only one confirmed case of COVID-19.

In the Dominican Republic, President Danilo Medina announced that all flights to and from China, Europe, Iran and South Korea will be suspended for one month effective 0600 local time (1000 UTC) on 16 March. Additionally, any travelers who have been to Europe and the aforementioned countries in the last two weeks will face quarantine. The duration of quarantine is unknown at this time. All cruise ships are forbidden to dock at the country’s ports effective immediately. There are 11 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country.

In South America, the Argentine government announced the closure of Argentina’s borders to all foreigners from 16-31 March. Only Argentine nationals and legal residents of Argentina will be allowed to enter the country. Argentina had previously closed its borders to travelers from China, Japan, Iran, South Korea, the U.S., the U.K. and all of Europe. Argentina has at least 46 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

In Colombia, the government announced a ban on all foreign travelers entering the country beginning on 16 March. Authorities require that Colombian nationals and residents undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine period upon arrival. There are at least 34 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country.

In Chile, the president announced the closure of all borders — including air, land and sea — to all foreign travelers as of 18 March for an unspecified time frame. The declaration exempts Chilean nationals and permanent residents. The border closure will not affect cargo or trade. Additionally, all schools are suspended for two weeks and gatherings with more than 500 people are banned. Chile has 155 confirmed cases of COVID-19, a notable increase from approximately 50 cases on 14 March.

Beginning on 15 March all travel to Ecuador via air, land and sea will be suspended indefinitely. Both foreign and Ecuadorian nationals will be prohibited from entering the country under the most recent restrictions; the ban on all Ecuadorian nationals will come into effect on 16 March. At this time, there are no restrictions on departures from the country; however, flights and other modes of transportation are likely to be disrupted. There have been 37 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ecuador.

In Peru, the government announced the closure of land borders and the suspension of air and sea transport for 15 days beginning on 16 March. During this period, authorities will also restrict movement within the country. Residents may only go out to purchase food and medication or go to the bank. President Martin Vizcarra has advised all citizens to self-quarantine for 15 days. The country has 71 confirmed coronavirus cases.

In Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro ordered businesses to close and citizens to remain home in Caracas and seven other states beginning on 15 March. Food delivery, health services, transportation services and security activities are exempt from the quarantine. Information on the duration of the quarantine is currently unavailable. Thus far, there have been 17 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country.

ASIA

Asia: As of 16 March 2020, the Manila metropolitan area in the Philippines remains under lockdown — including restrictions to and from the city via air, land and sea travel, with the exception of individuals employed within the area or international flights into Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (RPLL/MNL). The mandatory quarantine in the city went into effect at 0000 local time on 15 March (1600 UTC on 15 March) in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Police checkpoints throughout the city — expected to remain in effect through at least 14 April — are enforcing the lockdown while individuals in Manila are required to present identification cards indicating their respective places of work. Public transportation services — including the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) — continue to operate as normal. Meanwhile, on 15 March authorities announced the suspension of all flights to and from Clark International Airport (RPLC/CRK) — located approximately 95 km (60 mi) north of Manila — effective immediately in order to prevent the possibility of individuals arriving at the airport and traveling to Manila. There have been 140 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines.

In Malaysia, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that a nationwide lockdown will go into effect from 18 March through at least 31 March. Foreign travelers will be banned from entering the country during the lockdown period, while Malaysian citizens and permanent residents will be prohibited from leaving the country; residents returning to the country will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days. In addition, all non-essential businesses and schools will be closed and movement within the country will be restricted. Following the decree, Malaysian officials reported 125 new COVID-19 cases on 16 March, bringing the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 553.

In Brunei, on 15 March officials banned all citizens and foreign residents from leaving the country. In addition, officials canceled all major sporting events and restricted public gatherings to mitigate the risk of the virus spreading. Brunei has reported at least 50 confirmed COVID-19 cases, the majority of which are believed to be linked to a religious gathering near Kuala Lumpur.

In Cambodia, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced a 30-day suspension for the entry of all foreign nationals from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.S. beginning on 17 March.

In Kazakhstan, on 15 March President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev declared a state of emergency and banned all travel to and from the country, with the exception of diplomats and individuals invited by the government; the restrictions will remain in effect through at least 15 April.

In Thailand, authorities have divided restrictions on travelers into three groups: those from disease infected zones; those from places with ongoing local transmission; and travelers from other destinations. Travelers from designated “disease infected zones” — including China, Hong Kong, Italy, Iran, Macao and South Korea – will be required to apply for a visa prior to entry and self-quarantine upon arrival in Thailand. Travelers will also have to present a certificate proving that they have no risk of COVID-19 before being issued a boarding pass at airports. Travelers from locations with “ongoing local transmission” — including Denmark, France, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, the U.K., the U.S. and some cities in Japan — will be required to submit to observation, but not a quarantine, for 14 days. Such travelers must notify a disease control officer of the places they visit. Thai authorities have advised all other travelers to adhere to basic health precautions.

In Sri Lanka, officials have suspended air travel from nine European countries, including the U.K., France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden and Austria, in addition to travel from Iran, Italy and South Korea; the ban will remain in effect through at least 29 March. Officials also announced that Jaffna International Airport (VCCJ/JAF) — located in the northern Jaffna district — will be closed through 29 March. The airport is primarily used for domestic flights and budget airlines traveling between Sri Lanka and India.

AUSTRALASIA

Australasia: As of 16 March 2020, additional travel restrictions have been imposed in the Australasia region in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). In Australia, as of 0000 local time on 16 March (1300 UTC on 15 March), all international travelers arriving in the country are required to self-isolate for 14 days. Furthermore, all cruise ships are banned from docking at Australian ports for 30 days. Meanwhile, in New Zealand, as of 0000 local time on 15 March, all foreign travelers arriving in the country — with the exception of travelers from the Pacific Islands — are required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. Restrictions are expected to be reviewed after 16 days and after that every 14 days. Thus far, there have been 297 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Australia, and eight confirmed cases in New Zealand.

EUROPE

Europe: As of 16 March 2020, confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue to increase across Europe. There are currently 10 countries in Europe with over 1,000 confirmed cases: Italy (24,747), Spain (7,844), Germany (5,813), France (5,437), Switzerland (2,200), Denmark (1,739), the U.K. (1,395), Norway (1,256), Netherlands (1,136) and Sweden (1,032). Significant travel disruptions are expected to continue as governments implement further restrictions and travel bans in response to the spread of COVID-19. Authorities have also implemented bans on large public gatherings and canceled events across the region.

Albania, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland and Ukraine announced plans to close borders to most foreign nationals. Meanwhile, Germany has shut down its borders to Austria, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland. Travelers should monitor the status of their flights and travel plans if traveling through Europe, as cancellations and delays are almost certain to occur.

In Spain, officials declared a state of emergency and countrywide quarantine in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. The lockdown will last from 16-31 March. The decree requires that all people currently in Spain remain at home with exceptions for work, purchasing necessities and unspecified emergencies. In addition, public transportation will reduce services by at least half, while all public entities — such as schools, theaters and non-essential shops — will temporarily close.

In France, officials announced that all non-essential shops, restaurants and entertainment venues will be closed indefinitely. In addition, all schools will shut down beginning on 16 March and citizens have been advised to work from home. Public transportation will remain operational; however, officials have recommended avoiding all non-essential travel if possible.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Middle East and North Africa: As of 16 March 2020, several countries in the Middle East region — including Egypt, Bahrain, Morocco, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Jordan, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia — are continuing to issue travel restrictions in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

On 16 March Egypt’s prime minister announced that all international flights to and from Egypt will be suspended beginning 19 March and lasting until at least 31 March. Egyptian officials announced the measure in order to stop the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country. It is unclear at this time if the suspension affects charter flights.

On 15 March the Bahraini government announced several measures that will go into effect at 0300 local time on 18 March, including the suspension of visa on arrival at all Bahraini entry points. Foreign nationals with a valid entry visa obtained before boarding as well as Bahraini nationals, Gulf Cooperation Council (comprised of six Arab states in the Gulf region) nationals, and Bahraini residents who have visited U.K., EU, US, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Japan, within 14 days prior to their arrival in Bahrain — will be subject to quarantine and enhanced testing procedures. Those who are not symptomatic will be required to self-isolate for 14 days, and symptomatic individuals will be tested and subject to quarantine. Additionally, the Bahraini Civil Aviation Affairs (CAA) announced a reduction in flights to the country, beginning on 18 March.

In Morocco, officials announced that all international passenger flights to and from Morocco will be suspended beginning on 15 March until further notice to prevent further spread of the COVID-19. Reports indicate that flights will continue to operate to France and Spain in the forthcoming days to assist tourists and passengers traveling to their home countries. Reports indicate that ferry services between Spain, Morocco and Gibraltar have been reduced to cargo operations only. Thus far, there have been 28 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Morocco.

In Libya, officials announced on 15 March that all ports of entry, including air, land and sea, would be closed following Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj’s state of emergency declaration due to growing concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak. The travel ban is expected to be enforced from 16 March through 6 April. Thus far, Libya has no reported case of COVID-19; however, authorities have banned all public gatherings and restricted business hours in an effort to contain the virus. Meanwhile, Omani authorities announced that only Omani and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nationals will be allowed to enter Oman as of 17 March. This decision follows the Royal Omani Police force announcement that it will not issue tourist visas until further notice.

Qatari officials announced on 15 March that all international flights into the country will be suspended from 18 March-1 April. All transit and cargo flights will continue to operate as normal and Qatari nationals will be exempt from the ban. In view of the increasing spread of the virus, officials also suspended public transportation at 2200 local time (1900 UTC) on 15 March. Thus far, there have been more than 400 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Qatar. 

Jordanian officials announced that all border crossing points in and out of the country will be closed indefinitely beginning on 17 March. Under the decree, all passenger travel to and from the country via land, air and sea will be prohibited with the exception of diplomatic missions and international organizations. In addition, all public events, festivals and religious gatherings will be banned while tourist and archaeological sites will be closed until further notice. Officials have advised Jordanians abroad to remain in place until the travel ban is lifted.

UAE officials also announced that the issuance of all entry visas would be temporarily suspended beginning on 17 March. Restrictions do not apply to those who hold a diplomatic passport or individuals who received a visa before the aforementioned date. Additional restrictions are expected to close down major tourism and cultural venues from 15-31 March. Furthermore, flights to Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Turkey will be temporarily suspended beginning on 17 March. Thus far, there have been 85 reported coronavirus cases in the UAE.

In Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Interior has suspended all international flights into and out of the country from 15-29 March. Authorities note that exceptions will be made only in extreme circumstances. Saudi nationals who are unable to return home due to the suspension will be considered on official vacation.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Sub-Saharan Africa: As of 16 March 2020, a number of countries across Sub-Saharan Africa continue to implement restrictions on travel and large gatherings, as well as increase screening measures at major ports of entry, amid the ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Health officials in at least 27 countries across the African continent have confirmed cases of COVID-19.

In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared a national disaster and announced that travelers from eight high-risk countries — including China, Germany, Iran, Italy, South Korea, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S. — will be denied entry to the country beginning on 18 March. South African residents and permanent residents will be allowed entry, but will be required to undergo testing and mandatory quarantine upon their arrival. Ramaphosa has also ordered the closure of 35 of South Africa’s 72 land border crossings and has advised South Africans to avoid domestic and international travel if possible. South Africa has confirmed more than 60 cases of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Kenyan authorities will suspend entry for all inbound flights and passengers traveling to the country from COVID-19-affected countries for at least a two-week period beginning on 17 March. Kenya citizens and legal residents will be allowed entry, but will be required to self-quarantine for at least 14 days upon arrival. President Uhuru Kenyatta has also ordered the closure of all public and private schools across Kenya beginning on 16 March.

In Ghana, authorities will close the country’s borders to all foreign nationals arriving from countries with more than 200 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Ghanaian citizens and permanent residents will be allowed entry, but must observe a 14-day self-quarantine upon arrival. President Nana Akufo Addo has also banned all public gatherings — including conferences, funerals, religious gatherings and sporting events — for an unspecified period of time.