Worldview Security Update – March 25, 2020
25-Mar-20

AMERICAS

Americas: On 23 March 2020, several mandated "social distancing" measures went into effect as part of an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Bermuda. In addition to advising residents to maintain a one-meter (approximately 3 feet) distance from one another, officials also announced that only essential businesses such as supermarkets and food suppliers, gas stations, banks and pharmacies are allowed to remain open. All schools and daycare centers are now closed, as well as gyms, churches, cinemas, bars and clubs. In addition, the dine-in option is no longer available at restaurants. Bermuda currently has six confirmed cases of COVID-19, five of which were due to travel.

In Chile, a man died during the early morning hours of 24 March after being shot by police in the Recoleta district — located in the northern area of the capital Santiago — as the country observed a newly implemented curfew to slow the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. The Carabineros – Chile’s national police force — responded to a call regarding a quarrel in progress on the corner of La Paz avenue and Santos Dumont, a principal street. According to a law enforcement official, the man police officers shot had brandished a large knife beforehand. The sequence of events and other details regarding the shooting have not been publicly disclosed. As of 22 March, the Carabineros have been tasked with enforcing a countrywide nightly curfew during the hours of 2200-0500 local time (0100-0800 UTC) until further notice. Additionally, on the night of 23-24 March authorities arrested nearly 250 individuals for reportedly infringing the curfew. As of 25 March, Chile has reported 1,142 cases of COVID-19.

In Colombia, beginning at 0000 local time (0500 UTC) on 25 March, the nation’s flag carrier airline Avianca suspended all domestic commercial operations until 12 April. Avianca officials announced the measure on 24 March in response to the Colombian government’s implementation of a nationwide quarantine from 24 March until 12 April. The airline previously suspended all international operations on 23 March due to an entry ban on all foreign nationals. According to Avianca officials, the airline expects to gradually resume domestic operations on 13 April and international operations on 1 May, dependent on government restrictions. 

In Guadeloupe, a 2000–0500 local time (0000–0900 UTC) curfew went into effect on 24 March, and will remain in effect until 31 March. The curfew applies to the municipalities of Sainte-Anne, Pointe-à-Pitre and Les Abymes. Essential businesses and services are exempt from the curfew. Individuals are allowed to leave their homes and accommodations for essential activities, such as shopping at supermarkets and pharmacies, and for family emergencies and to seek medical attention.

In Guatemala, lawmakers voted to extend the country’s state of emergency by 30 days on 24 March. These measures include a continuation of the closure of air, land and sea borders to all foreign travelers, a national curfew and mandated prices on basic food and medical necessities. Officials also called for additional measures to help protect health workers who are dealing with a shortage of medical masks.

In Honduras, as of 24 March, all central markets in the cities of La Ceiba, San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa are closed as part of an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Officials implemented the measure after residents flouted curfew restrictions and continued to congregate in market areas. The National Police and the armed forces are enforcing the protocol. Grocery stores remain open in order to allow residential access to food and basic necessities. The government also has plans to distribute food to 3.2 million Hondurans beginning 25 March. In the city of San Pedro Sula, authorities arrested 33 residents for breaking curfew. The police detained those who broke curfew and seized their motorcycles. The vehicles will be returned to their respective owners after the country’s state of emergency ends. A total of 219 people were detained in Honduras for violating curfew. An increased police presence has also been reported in the cities of San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa to prevent crowds.

In Panama, President Laurentino Cortizo announced new quarantine measures on 24 March, including a strict shelter-in-place rule that will take effect on 25 March and continue until further notice. Residents may only leave their homes at a specific time – designated by the last number on their passport or identification card – to purchase food and medicine. Residents may leave a half hour before their time and return a half hour after. Regardless of the number on their identification card or passport, adults over 60 years of age may go shopping between 1100 local time and 1300 local time. Individuals working in essential services or business are exempt from restrictions.

In Paraguay, authorities announced the suspension of all inbound international passenger flights as of 0000 local time (0400 UTC) on 24 March through 12 April. Both international commercial and private flights are banned; however, cargo, medical and relief flights continue. Charter flights to repatriate foreign nationals are also allowed to continue. 

United States / Canada (Security threat levels – 2 / 2): On 24 March 2020, officials in the U.S. city of Miami, Florida, imposed a mandatory shelter-in-place order in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), beginning at 2359 local time until further notice. The mayor of Miami urged residents to stay in their homes to the greatest extent possible and closed all parks in the city on 19 March before issuing the aforementioned mandatory order. Similar mandatory orders are in place in a number of U.S. states, including Hawaii (from 24 March-30 April); New Mexico (from 24 March until further notice); Oregon (from 23 March until further notice); West Virginia (from 24 March until further notice); Wisconsin (from 24 March-24 April). Residents in the aforementioned states traveling for essential purposes, such as obtaining basic goods — including food and medicine — and for work in sectors deemed essential, are exempt from the restrictions. Commercial establishments that are deemed essential — such as grocery stores and gas stations — will remain open; however, all nonessential businesses have been ordered to suspend in-person operations. Meanwhile, the states of Maryland, Nevada, Virginia and Kentucky have ordered nonessential businesses to close down, but did not issue stay-at-home orders. The U.S. has recorded at least 55,238 confirmed COVID-19 cases with approximately 800 fatalities; New York is the worst-affected state in the country, with more than 25,000 confirmed cases and at least 210 fatalities.

The Canadian provinces of Ontario and Québec ordered a mandatory closure of all nonessential businesses beginning on 24 March. In Ontario — of which Toronto is the capital — all nonessential businesses were ordered to close down, except those deemed essential — such as grocery stores and pharmacies — for at least the next 14 days, beginning at 2359 local time. Additionally, in Québec — where Montreal is located — such commercial establishments were ordered to suspend in-person operations by 0000 local time on 25 March. The order in Québec is set to expire on 13 April. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has urged Canadians to "go home and stay home” and warned that his government will impose more severe measures if residents fail to follow the guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Canada has recorded at least 2,792 confirmed COVID-19 cases with more than 20 fatalities. Ontario and Québec, in addition to British Columbia, are the Canadian provinces that have been most severely affected by COVID-19.

ASIA

Afghanistan (Security threat level – 5): At approximately 0745 local time (0315 UTC) on 25 March 2020, at least one assailant armed with an automatic rifle and grenades attacked a Gurdwara (Sikh place of worship) in the Shorbazar area, located in Police District 1, near downtown Kabul, the capital. Afghan security forces — aided by international troops — responded to the attack and engaged the gunman for several hours before killing him. At least 25 worshippers were killed and eight others were wounded during the episode. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Asia: In India, beginning at 0000 local time on 25 March (1830 UTC on 24 March) a 21-day countrywide lockdown began in order to slow the spread of the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Under the order, residents are able to leave their homes to procure supplies such as food or medicine, to seek medical treatment or to report to work if they are employed in essential services, which include but are not limited to, grocery stores, gas stations, medical facilities, banks, the media and telecommunications. All nonessential businesses are instructed to have employees work from home if possible. Previously implemented bans on domestic and international flights as well as rail services are set to remain in effect, except for cargo flights transporting essential supplies or emergency services. To date, there are at least 562 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 10 deaths in the country. Most Indian states and federally administered Union Territories previously imposed stay-at-home measures, and the latest order appears to be an attempt to form a uniform response to combat COVID-19. Depending on the effect of the lockdown, authorities are likely to extend it beyond the deadline or introduce more stringent measures, especially if citizens choose to ignore the order. Authorities have guaranteed that essential goods and services will remain accessible, and that residents should avoid panic-buying supplies.

On 25 March Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha declared a state of emergency and banned all foreign travelers from entering Thailand in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19. Under the emergency decree — which goes into effect at 0000 local time on 26 March (1700 UTC on 25 March) and continues through the end of April — mass social gatherings will be prohibited, domestic travel will be restricted and all nonessential commercial establishments will shut down. While no curfew orders have been announced, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-Ngam indicated that a 24-hour restriction, except to obtain basic necessities — such as food and medicine — could be imposed during the state of emergency. Thailand has recorded at least 934 confirmed COVID-19 cases with four fatalities; for comparison, there were approximately 40 such cases in the country in the beginning of March.

On 24 March Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo announced the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Although authorities did not announce a new date for the games, Abe stated that he expects they will be held by the summer of 2021. The decision to postpone the games followed intense pressure from athletes and representatives of many nations, who threatened to boycott if the games were held on the previously scheduled dates of 24 July-9 August.

In Vietnam, on 24 March authorities closed restaurants, hair salons and gyms in Ho Chi Minh City beginning at 1800 local time (1100 UTC) as part of an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. Facilities will remain closed until at least 31 March. City authorities closed entertainment venues, such as movie theaters, bars and clubs, on 15 March. In Hanoi, on 25 March the government imposed restrictions on public gatherings and closed all non-essential businesses such as movie theaters, clubs, bars and karaoke centers until further notice.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced on 25 March that the current movement control order, which was initially imposed on 18 March, will be extended until 14 April. Previously the order was set to expire on 31 March. The measure is similar to other lockdown orders throughout the world in that it restricts travel nationwide, only to allow residents to leave their homes to procure essential goods and services such as groceries and medical services.

Multiple airlines in Southeast Asia announced significant reductions in operations. Thai Airways announced that on 25 March it will suspend flights to destinations within Asia; in addition, on 27 March the airline will cease operating four routes in Australia. While most routes will be suspended as of 1 April, flights to and from European countries are expected to operate on a reduced capacity. These suspensions will last at least until 31 May. Meanwhile, Thai Lion Air announced that it will temporarily suspend all domestic and international flights from 25 March- 30 April as a result of the current lack of demand and restrictions related to COVID-19. Thai Lion Air plans to return to operations on 1 May. Singapore Airlines likewise announced on 24 March that it will reduce its capacity by 96%. The airline will ground 138 of the 147 aircraft in its fleet.

On 25 March the U.S. Embassy in Manila issued an alert, advising U.S. nationals in the Philippines to consider sheltering in place in view of the suspension of all international flights. The alert can be found in the Government Warnings section below.

EUROPE

Europe: As of 25 March 2020, confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue to increase significantly across much of Europe. At present, there are five countries that have surpassed 10,000 confirmed cases: Italy (69,176), Spain (47,610), Germany (34,009), France (22,637) and Switzerland (10,456). Much of the continent remains under lockdown measures and significant transportation disruptions continue due to the increased restrictions.

On 25 March Ukrainian officials declared a nationwide emergency for the next 30 days to combat the spread of COVID-19. Previously, emergencies had been declared regionally, including in the capital Kiev. The emergency declaration extended nationwide lockdown measures through at least 24 April.

On 24 March, Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar announced new restrictions that are expected to last through 19 April. The new measures include the closure of all nonessential businesses and a caution against gatherings of more than four people. Varadkar also urged all residents to stay at home if possible. Additionally, Irish airline Ryanair announced that its fleet will likely be grounded until July due to increased travel restrictions. Officials stated that the airline will continue to operate repatriation flights and essential flights to distribute medical supplies, but commercial service is not expected to resume for at least two months.

Additionally, Norwegian officials announced an extension of lockdown measures introduced on 12 March. The lockdown is expected to last at least until 13 April. The current restrictions include a ban on foreign nationals without residency or employment in the country, plus school and university closures. In North Macedonia, officials announced an addendum to the current nationwide curfew from 2100-0600 local time (1900-0400 UTC). Residents under the age of 18 will only be allowed to go outside from 1200-2100 local time, while those over 67 may only go outside from 0500-1100 local time. Meanwhile, in Poland, officials implemented a ban on gatherings of more than two people and implemented a ban on nonessential travel, with exceptions for essential goods shopping and travel to work. The new restrictions are expected to continue through 11 April.

In Armenia, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced a nationwide lockdown from 24-31 March. The announcement closed all non-essential businesses and banned interprovincial travel by buses and mini-buses. Residents are expected to remain indoors during the lockdown unless they are shopping for essential goods, seeking medical attention or engaging in physical exercise. All persons who leave their home or accommodation are required to complete and carry a government form regarding the purpose of their movement activity and carry their passport.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Middle East and North Africa: On 25 March 2020, the governments of Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt, Oman and Sudan announced increased travel restrictions in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz announced a lockdown of the cities of Mecca, Medina and Riyadh on 25 March in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the country. The lockdown will begin at 1900 local time (1700 UTC) and will prohibit residents from entering or exiting the three cities. Separately, the king also issued a decree prohibiting residents of Saudi Arabia’s 13 provinces from traveling between the provinces. The second decree will go into effect on 26 March at 1500 local time. Essential workers, including security forces, media and health care workers, are exempt.

In Morocco, authorities announced on 25 March that the country’s “Health State of Emergency” will remain in effect until 20 April. The state of emergency prohibits nonessential movement from 0600- 1800 local time (0500-1700 UTC). The exceptions include travel to and from work, essential shopping and medical purposes.

In Egypt, officials will begin to enforce a nightly curfew on 25 March from 1900-0600 local time until at least 8 April. During the curfew hours, all public and private transportation will cease to operate. Additionally, anyone found violating the curfew may face a fine of up to 4,000 Egyptian pounds (approximately 250 U.S. dollars). While shopping malls in the country will remain open from 0600-1700 local time Sunday to Thursday, all entertainment facilities will be closed at all times.

In Oman, officials announced on 24 March the suspension of all international and domestic passenger flights to and from the country beginning on 29 March until further notice. The suspension, which will go into effect at 1200 local time (0900 UTC) on 29 March, will exempt cargo flights.

Sudanese officials began to enforce a nationwide nightly curfew on 24 March; the curfew will remain in effect from 2000-0600 local time (1800-0400 UTC) until further notice. Long-distance public transportation within Sudan will also be suspended beginning at 1800 local time on 26 March. A nationwide state of emergency — declared on 16 March — remains in effect and the country’s airports, seaports and land border crossings remain closed amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Sub-Saharan Africa: On 25 March 2020, a number of governments across Sub-Saharan Africa continue to introduce and enforce restrictions intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). On 24 March Namibian President Hage Geingob announced a partial nationwide lockdown, including a 30-day ban on travel to and from the country. The lockdown — which closes the country’s borders to all foreign nationals — will go into effect on 27 March through 16 April. Namibians and permanent residents will be allowed to return, but will be required to quarantine at their own cost. All nonessential employees are required to work from home during the lockdown; residents may only leave their homes for essential needs, such as food and health care. The measures are more stringent than previous restrictions, which only barred travel to COVID-19-affected countries as well as closed all schools and canceled large gatherings for at least 30 days. As of 25 March, there are at least seven confirmed COVID-19 cases in Namibia.

In Eswatini, Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini also declared a partial nationwide lockdown, which went into effect on the evening of 24 March and will remain in place for at least the next 20 days. The order bans all travel within the country and allows residents only to leave their homes for essential purposes, such as buying food or seeking medical care. The government has ordered other businesses deemed nonessential to close during the lockdown period. The country’s borders remain open at this time; however, any passengers arriving from a COVID-19-affected country, including South Africa — where health officials have confirmed more than 700 cases of the disease — will be required to observe a 14-day self-quarantine. The military has deployed nationwide to enforce the lockdown.

Meanwhile, on the evening of 24 March South Sudanese President Salva Kiir announced a nightly nationwide curfew from 2000-0600 local time (1700-0300 UTC). The curfew went into effect that same evening and will remain in place for at least 30 days. South Sudan closed its borders — including land crossings and the suspension of all international flights — on 24 March. Health officials in the landlocked country have not confirmed any COVID-19 cases as yet; however, all six countries that border South Sudan have recorded confirmed cases.

Likewise, Botswana’s government announced on the evening of 24 March that it was closing all borders effective immediately and until further notice. Citizens of Botswana will be allowed to re-enter but are required to quarantine for 14 days. Thus far, Botswana has no confirmed COVID-19 cases.

As of 25 March several U.S. diplomatic missions across the region — including the U.S. embassies in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire; Libreville, Gabon; Maputo, Mozambique; Abuja, Nigeria; and Brazzaville, Republic of Congo — are working to arrange seats for U.S. citizens on U.S.-bound commercial flights. Travelers in the region should contact their relevant embassies for additional information on flight availability.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Benin (Security threat level – 3): On 24 March 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Cotonou issued a Security Alert regarding possible anti-foreigner sentiment in Benin, which reads in part as follows: "Location: Benin

"Event: The Embassy has received reports suggesting possible anti-foreigner sentiment related to the spread of COVID-19 in Benin. Incidents of verbal harassment related to COVID-19 have been reported by U.S. citizens and other foreigners, along with difficulty or delays in obtaining access to routine medical care due to concerns that foreigners may have and transmit COVID-19. The Embassy is not aware of any reports of violence against foreigners related to COVID-19.

"For emergency American Citizen Services, please contact us at ACSCotonou@state.gov ."

The full text is available here .
<br< Brazil (Security threat level – 3): On 24 March 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia issued an alert regarding information on commercial flights departing Brazil, which reads in part as follows:

"Per the State Department’s Global Level Four Health Alert, 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.

"The U.S. Embassy in Brasilia would like to inform U.S. citizens in Brazil that some regularly scheduled commercial flight options remain available departing Brazil for the United States but we expect this number to decrease. U.S. citizens who wish to return to the United States are urged to do so as soon as possible as the travel situation is evolving rapidly and flight availability is subject to change. Domestic flight schedules within Brazil are also being reduced significantly, and U.S. citizens currently outside of the international gateways identified below should also monitor their ability to obtain a connecting flight by consulting the website of their nearest airport.

"Please see below the remaining available commercial flights to the United States that the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia is aware of as of March 24 at 5 p.m. (Note: all flights subject to change):

  • United Airlines – Rio (GIG) to Houston (IAH) – final flight prior to route suspension is March 24.
  • United Airlines – São Paulo (GRU) to Washington (IAD) – final flight prior to route suspension is March 25
  • United Airlines – São Paulo (GRU) to Chicago (ORD) – final flight prior to route suspension is March 25
  • United Airlines – São Paulo (GRU) to Newark (EWR) – final flight prior to route suspension is March 28
  • United Airlines – São Paulo (GRU) to Houston (IAH) – expected to continue daily service through May 3
  • Delta Air Lines – Rio (GIG) to Atlanta (ATL) – operates daily (subject to change)
  • Delta Air Lines – São Paulo (GRU) to Atlanta (ATL) – operates daily (subject to change)
  • Delta Air Lines – São Paulo (GRU) to New York (JFK) – operates daily (subject to change)
  • Azul – Campinas (VCP) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) – schedule has been reduced to four flights per week in March and only one flight per week in April
  • Azul – Campinas (VCP) to Orlando (MCO) – schedule has been reduced to four flights per week in March and only one flight per week in April
  • LATAM – São Paulo (GRU) to Miami (MIA) – expect schedule reductions
  • LATAM – São Paulo (GRU) to New York (JFK) – expect schedule reductions
  • LATAM – São Paulo (GRU) to Boston (BOS) – expect schedule reductions
  • LATAM – São Paulo (GRU) to Orlando (MCO) – expect schedule reductions

The full text of the U.S. Embassy alert is available here .
Kuwait (Security threat level – 2): On 25 March 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait issued a message regarding evacuation flights from Kuwait, which reads in part as follows:

"The U.S. Embassy has been informed of a commercial Kuwait Airways flight for U.S. citizens departing Kuwait International Airport on Friday, March 27, 2020 at 10:00am to New York City (JFK International Airport). The U.S. Embassy in Kuwait is working with airlines to potentially arrange additional flights to the United States, but this is currently the only confirmed flight.

"If you want to depart on this flight and are willing to pay the cost of the airfare to Kuwait Airways, please email the information below to KuwaitEvac@state.gov by 2:00pm today (Wednesday, March 25). The flight will be filled in the order that the emails are received, and priority will be given to elderly and minor travelers. Please do not call the Embassy to confirm receipt of your email; we will contact you if your name was forwarded to Kuwait Airways. If your name is not forwarded to Kuwait Airways, we will maintain your contact information for future possible flights."

To read the full text of the message please click here .
Philippines (Security threat level – 4): On 25 March 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Manila issued a Health Alert that reads in part as follows:

“Location: The Philippines

“Event:

“Most international flights to be suspended: Several airlines have already suspended or indicated intent to suspend international flights until April 14, 2020, or until further notice. While the U.S. Embassy has been making every effort possible to assist U.S. citizens through coordination with local authorities including the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT), options to fly within and out of the Philippines are extremely limited. Please monitor the DOT for announcement of available sweeper flights.

“Consider your plan to shelter in place: While the U.S. Embassy attempts to address these continuing challenges in assisting U.S. citizens, please make necessary preparations if staying in the Philippines during the quarantine period. Please comply with local quarantine requirements and strictly follow local authorities.

“Hotel information: Passengers in the National Capital Region (NCR) can book a hotel online or visit the DOT airport office for assistance at 4/F Terminal 1, Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Pasay; Point of Contact is Ms. Jenny Factora through mobile number +63 927 993 5965. Please note the Embassy cannot cover costs related to your stay. This list is provided by the Philippine Department of Tourism; the fact that the Embassy is listing the establishments here should not be construed as an endorsement.”

The full text of the alert can be read here .
Philippines (Security threat level – 4): On 25 March 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Manila issued a Health Alert that reads in part as follows:

“Location: Cebu, Philippines

“Event:

“Mactan Cebu Airport Terminal relayed the following:

  • There is a potential sweeper flight from Philippine Airlines tomorrow, March 26, 2020, departing Cebu to Manila. Passengers must show proof of an outbound international flight out of Manila or a hotel reservation in Manila.
  • Passengers are required to inquire in person and present their documents at the airport by 8:00 A.M.
  • The potential flight tomorrow will be departing at 13:30H /1:30 P.M. However, please note that the flight is subject to the number of passengers who will purchase tickets at the PAL ticketing office located at the Mactan Cebu Airport.
  • The average cost of the flight from Cebu to Manila is approximately Php 10,000 per passenger.
  • Passengers may call the Mactan Cebu Airport Help Desk at 0917-573-7180 (mobile) or 0917-570-3060 (mobile) for more information.
  • Per the Department of Tourism (DOT), stranded foreigners can approach the set-up table prov