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Worldview Security Update – March 20, 2020


Americas: In Argentina, President Alberto Fernandez announced a mandatory nationwide quarantine from 20-31 March 2020, to be enforced by security forces, as part of an overall effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The measure  requires people to remain indoors except to go out shopping for basic goods such as groceries and medicine, or to seek medical attention or to provide essential services. Supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and hospitals will continue to operate.

In the Bahamas, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced a countrywide nightly curfew from 2100-0500 local time (0100-0900 UTC) from 20-31 March. All non-essential businesses will be closed and public transportation will cease to operate; however, medical facilities, hotels and airports will remain open. Grocery stores and farmers markets, pharmacies, and gas stations will remain open between 0600-1930 local time. Individuals who violate the restrictions can be fined up to 10,000 Bahamian dollars/U.S. dollars, sentenced to as much as 18 months in prison, or both if convicted.

In Brazil, officials announced that travelers from a number of Asian and European countries will be banned from entering the country for 30 days beginning on 23 March. Those banned include nationals of Australia, China, the European Union, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland and the U. K. The restriction does not apply to legal permanent residents of Brazil or cargo transportation from the aforementioned countries.

In Haiti, President Jovenel Moïse announced the country’s first two confirmed cases of COVID-19 and declared a state of emergency. All airports, ports and borders are closed to travelers; cargo is exempt from the closures. A nightly curfew will also be enforced from 2000-0500 local time (0000-0900 UTC) beginning on 20 March until further notice. All schools and universities have also been closed.

In Paraguay, authorities announced that all inbound and outbound international flights could cease operating beginning on 21 March, following recent decisions by Aerolineas Argentinas, Amaszonas Bolivia, Air Europa, Avianca, Flybondi and Paraná Air to suspend direct flights to Paraguay. The government has encouraged foreign nationals to consider leaving by 21 March to avoid travel difficulties.

United States (Security threat level – 2): On 19 March 2020, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an indefinite statewide stay-at-home order, restricting all non-essential movements in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The mandatory order requires residents to remain in their homes, except to obtain food, seek medical care or to provide essential services. Banks, pharmacies, grocery stores and laundromats will remain open; however, non-essential businesses, such as dine-in restaurants, bars and nightclubs, entertainment venues, gyms and fitness studios and convention centers will cease operations. The order exempts individuals working in critical infrastructure sectors, including — but not limited to — commercial facilities, communications, critical manufacturing, dams, defense, emergency services, energy, financial services, food and agriculture, government, health care, information technology, nuclear materials, transportation systems and water supply. Individuals may also go outdoors for walking or other physical activity as long as they practice social distancing. As of last report, California has recorded 1,039 COVID-19 cases with at least 19 fatalities.

Elsewhere in the U.S., Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a public health disaster and ordered a statewide ban on gatherings of more than 10 people from 20 March-3 April. He also ordered the closure of non-essential businesses — such as bars, restaurants, food courts, gyms and fitness centers — although food establishments can continue carryout and delivery services. A number of major U.S. cities have employed similar stringent measures to combat the disease; in Miami, Florida, the city mayor ordered the closure of all non-essential commercial establishments and urged residents to stay in their homes if there is no essential need to procure food or medicine. The mayor of Memphis, Tennessee, also ordered bars, gyms and workout facilities to shut down as of 19 March. Additional such measures, including stay-at-home orders, are highly likely to be imposed in other cities as confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to spread rapidly. The U.S. has so far recorded at least 14,250 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with more than 200 fatalities. The disease has spread rapidly across the country, particularly since early March; for comparison, there were approximately 100 confirmed cases in the country on 1 March. Notably, confirmed cases of COVID-19 have more than doubled over the past 48 hours. While COVID-19-related effects are at present most severe in the states of New York and Washington, in addition to California, experts warn that the situation will certainly worsen across the country as new cases emerge.


Asia: On 20 March 2020, South Korean authorities announced that all travelers from Europe will be tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Travelers staying in South Korea for a longer term will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days, regardless of the result of their test. Short-term travelers will be required to report their health condition via daily phone calls to local authorities.

In Sri Lanka, the government imposed a curfew from 1800 local time on 20 March to 0600 local time on 23 March (1230 UTC on 20 March until 0030 UTC on 23 March). Individuals traveling to the country’s main Bandaranaike International Airport (VCBI/CMB), located in the Colombo suburb of Negombo, with confirmed flight tickets are exempt. Separately, on 19 March the election commission announced that parliamentary elections originally scheduled to be held on 25 April were being postponed due to COVID-19. Authorities have yet to determine a future date for the election. The commission did state that all nominations for the election would remain valid for the new election date.


Europe: On 20 March 2020, the government of the southeastern German state of Bavaria — where Munich is located — ordered a statewide lockdown beginning at 0000 local time on 21 March (2300 UTC on 20 March) to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country. The ban on public gatherings and non-essential movements is initially scheduled to remain in effect for the next two weeks Individuals will still be allowed to leave their homes for work, to purchase groceries or to seek medical attention. Bavaria is the first German state to impose such restrictions, but the other 15 states are likely to impose similar travel and movement restrictions very soon; media reports suggest that federal officials are considering a nationwide lockdown. Germany has recorded more than 15,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with at least 44 fatalities.

In related developments, on 19 March German airline Lufthansa announced that it will be reducing flight capacity by 95% as demand decreases. The airline is expected to ground 700 of the 763 aircraft in its fleet. Lufthansa subsidiaries Air Dolomiti, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines previously suspended all flights, while Swiss International Air Lines significantly reduced short-haul flights and reduced U.S. flights to three per week.

On 19 March the Bulgarian government announced a ban on all non-EU citizens as part of the EU’s travel ban to contain COVID-19. The ban is expected to last from 20 March-17 April. The ban also prohibits travelers arriving from France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the U.K.

In Serbia, the government announced a nationwide border closure beginning on 20 March. Additionally, officials banned all commercial flights to Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport (LYBE/BEG) and Niš Constantine the Great Airport (LYNI/INI) as of 19 March. Air Serbia has also suspended operations.


Middle East and North Africa: As of 20 March 2020, governments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are strengthening domestic travel restrictions as part of overall efforts to reduce the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Notably, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Morocco, Israel, Iran and Jordan have all tightened restrictions on domestic travel and on commercial activity.
Saudi authorities have announced the suspension of all domestic public transportation services for 14 days beginning at 0600 local time (0300 UTC) on 21 March. The suspension will include all domestic air travel, along with train, bus and taxi services, throughout the country. Domestic flights for medical evacuation purposes, humanitarian purposes and private charters are exempt.

In Algeria, officials will suspend all domestic air travel from 22 March-4 April. Authorities have yet to announce potential exemptions for humanitarian flights.
In Morocco, authorities declared a countrywide public health emergency scheduled to go into effect at 1800 local time (1700 UTC) on 20 March. The state of emergency will restrict non-essential movement within the country, limiting it to travel for essential purposes only.

In Israel, on 19 March officials declared a legally binding state of emergency, barring citizens from leaving their homes unless necessary. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that security forces will enforce the ban, stating that prior voluntary measures have proven ineffective. The state of emergency will remain in effect until at least 26 March.

In Iran, President Hassan Rouhani announced the mandatory closure of all shopping malls and markets across the country from 20 March-3 April. Under the terms of the closure, grocery stores and pharmacies will be exempt.

The Jordanian government is set to impose a countrywide curfew beginning at 0700 local time (0500 UTC) on 21 March until further notice. Security personnel will prohibit individuals in the country from traveling, except for workers who have special permission from the government, and those with emergency medical needs. Jordanian officials are instructing those with medical emergencies to inform emergency services so that they can help patients arrive safely. Those who violate the curfew will be subject to immediate arrest and imprisonment for no more than one year. Additionally, all non-essential retail establishments, including shopping malls, will close on 24 March.


Sub-Saharan Africa: On 20 March 2020, authorities in Nigeria shut down three international airports — Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (DNKN/KAN), Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu (DNEN/ENU) and Port Harcourt International Airport (DNPO/PHC) — effective 21 March until further notice to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

On 19 March Cabo Verde’s government announced the closure of all international travel to and from the country, including for its own citizens, effective immediately for an initial period of three weeks; the decision followed the first confirmed COVID-19 case in the country, which also prompted authorities to place more than 850 people at a resort in the capital Praia under quarantine.

Also on 19 March in Kenya — where officials previously suspended travel to and from countries with reported COVID-19 cases — the government announced plans to begin conducting random temperature screenings in locations frequented by the general public on 21 March.

President Félix Tshisekedi announced that the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will suspend all flights arriving from, in addition to those that have recently transited through, at least seven “high-risk” countries — China, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Italy and South Korea — beginning on 20 March 2020. All other arriving passengers will be required to complete a health information form and will be subject to enhanced screening upon entry; those exhibiting symptoms will be required to quarantine for 14 days. The government has also banned public gatherings of 20 or more people until further notice.

Meanwhile, Gambian officials banned all flights arriving from 13 European countries beginning on 19 March until further notice. Additionally, officials announced that all travelers arriving from 47 other countries across the Americas, Asia and Europe — including the U.S. — will be required to observe a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival. Further details regarding implementation of the restrictions were not immediately available.

On 19 March Mauritius health officials confirmed the first three cases of COVID-19 in the country, prompting authorities to expand the existing travel restrictions. Effective 1000 local time (0600 UTC) on 19 March, all ports of entry — to include a two-week entry ban for all arriving passengers, including Mauritian nationals — were closed until further notice.

Likewise, Senegalese officials expanded the country’s current air travel restrictions to include the suspension of all international commercial flights arriving in the country beginning at 1159 local time/UTC on 20 March. Cargo, domestic, humanitarian and medical evacuation flights are exempt from the restrictions, which will remain in effect through at least 17 April. Previously, the government had only suspended flights to and from seven COVID-19-affected countries. Health officials have confirmed at least 38 COVID-19 cases in Senegal — the largest number of cases in West Africa — as of 19 March.


World: On 19 March 2020, the U.S. Department of State issued an updated Global Health Advisory and raised its level of advice to “Level 4: Do Not Travel” from “Level 3: Reconsider Travel.” The advisory reads in part as follows: “The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel. Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice. Airlines have cancelled many international flights and several cruise operators have suspended operations or cancelled trips. If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe.

“On March 14, the Department of State authorized the departure of U.S. personnel and family members from any diplomatic or consular post in the world who have determined they are at higher risk of a poor outcome if exposed to COVID-19 or who have requested departure based on a commensurate justification. These departures may limit the ability of U.S. Embassies and consulates to provide services to U.S. citizens.
“For the latest information regarding COVID-19, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website."
The full text of the updated advisory is available here ."

Analyst Comment: The U.S. and Canadian governments have reached an agreement to temporarily shut down the shared border for non-essential travel, although cross-border trade and travel for work and other unspecified essential purposes will be permitted to continue. The restriction is expected to go into effect later on the night of 20-21 March. Additionally, the U.S. government is working with Mexican officials to implement restrictions on non-essential travel along its southern border with Mexico in the near term, and additional restrictions on travel between the U.S. and other countries are likely to be implemented with minimal advance notice.