Worldview Security Update – March 30, 2020
30-Mar-20

AMERICAS

Americas: As of 30 March 2020, a number of governments across the Americas continue to implement and enforce restrictions intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including flight suspensions and extensions to states of emergency. Significant developments for Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and Suriname are outlined below.

On 29 March 2020, Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández announced the extension of Argentina’s current nationwide quarantine until 12 April. The quarantine requires people to remain indoors; however, people are allowed out to acquire basic goods, such as groceries and medicine, or to seek medical attention. Security forces will enforce the quarantine. On 26 March government closed the country’s borders to all travelers, including Argentine nationals and legal residents, until 31 March. The same day, Fernández suspended flights to repatriate Argentine nationals and residents to the country. Argentina previously closed its borders to all foreign nationals during 15-31 March.

In Barbados, the government imposed on 28 March a nationwide nightly curfew from 2000-0600 local time (0000 to 1000 UTC on 29 March) through 14 April. Furthermore, the government announced the closure of all non-essential businesses from 2000 local time on 27 March through 15 April.

On 27 March officials in Brazil announced an immediate ban on foreign nationals entering Brazil until 26 April. Exceptions are in effect for Brazilian citizens, legal residents, foreigners working for unspecified international organizations, foreigners with direct relatives of Brazilians, as well as others with approval from the Brazilian government. Additionally, the new rules do not apply to cargo transportation and for passengers in international transit. Airlines have been tasked with the enforcement of the ban, and anecdotal information suggests that the restrictions are not being strictly enforced.

In Guatemala and Honduras, authorities announced on 29 March an extension to the current nationwide curfew until 12 April. Guatemala’s daily curfew remains in effect from 1600 to 0400 local time (2000 to 1000 UTC). In Honduras, new restrictions go into effect on 30 March. Residents may leave their homes to acquire food, medicine and fuel one day a week on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday from 0900 to 1500 local time (1500 to 2100 UTC) based on their identification card number. While transiting, only two people may be in a vehicle at any time. All pedestrian and vehicular movement is prohibited on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Security officers will be in place to detain residents who do not comply with the new measures.

The governor of Yucatan state in southern Mexico announced on 29 March penalties for residents who do not respect the state’s measures to counter the spread of COVID-19. Those who do not self-isolate after exposure to a confirmed case of the virus or after being diagnosed with COVID-19 themselves are subject to a fine of up to 86,800 Mexican pesos (3,645 U.S. dollars) and up to three years in prison. The same penalties apply to residents who use facilities that are temporarily closed. In addition, any resident who interferes with health authorities in the state will be detained.

In Panama, the Holland America Line Corporation confirmed on 27 March that four passengers on its cruise ship Zaandam have died after experiencing flu-like symptoms. The ship, which carries 1,811 individuals of various nationalities had embarked from Argentina on 7 March, was scheduled dock in Chile and pass through the Panama Canal before ending its voyage in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. However, due to the likelihood of multiple cases of COVID-19 on the ship, the Chilean and Panamanian governments refused permission for the ship to dock. The ship has been at sea since 14 March. Nearly 150 passengers are currently experiencing flu-like symptoms.

In Suriname, the government imposed on 29 March a nationwide curfew between the hours of 2000-0600 local time (2300-0900 UTC) until 12 April.

United States (Security threat level – 2): As of 30 March 2020, the U.S. has recorded at least 143,055 cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) with more than 2,500 deaths. In an effort to slow the rapid spread of COVID-19, on 29 March U.S. President Donald Trump extended federal guidelines recommending residents stay at home and practice social distancing measures outdoors until 30 April. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Domestic Travel Advisory and urged residents of the northeastern states of Connecticut, New Jersey and New York to avoid all nonessential domestic travel for 14 days beginning on 28 March. In New York, health officials have recorded more than 60,000 confirmed cases, with more than 1,000 fatalities.
A number of states and cities across the country continue to enact restrictive measures to combat COVID-19. Stay-at-home orders were issued on 27-29 March for the states of Kansas (from 0000 local time on 30 March through 19 April), North Carolina (from 1700 local time on 30 March through 29 April) and Rhode Island (from 0000 local time on 30 March through 13 April). In addition, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert issued a “Stay Safe, Stay Home" notice urging residents to remain in their homes as much as possible, along with a set of guidelines to combat COVID-19. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly mandated that any resident returning from high-risk states — including Colorado, Louisiana, Illinois, New Jersey, California, Florida, New York and Washington — must self-quarantine for 14 days. Anyone arriving in Rhode Island for purposes other than work must self-quarantine for 14 days. In Texas, beginning on 30 March, state officials require all travelers from the states of California, Louisiana and Washington — along with the cities of Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and Miami — to self-quarantine for 14 days; the measure was already in effect for the states of Connecticut, New Jersey and New York, in addition to the city of New Orleans.

ASIA

Asia: Over the weekend of 28-29 March 2020, countries throughout the Asia Pacific region continued to impose stringent measures intended to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), while domestic travel restrictions in China are easing. Countries imposing enhanced restrictions include Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines and South Korea. Myanmar and Sri Lanka also enacted restrictions on commercial aviation.

In China, on 28 March authorities began allowing individuals to enter Wuhan, the site of the first COVID-19 cases, easing a lockdown that began on 23 January. However, travelers will not be allowed to leave Wuhan until 8 April. Despite easing travel restrictions, provincial authorities continue to maintain border closures. For example, on 27 March thousands of residents — alongside police officers — of Hubei province clashed with Jiangxi police officers on a bridge over the Yangtze River after the latter refused to allow travelers from Hubei to enter Jiangxi despite restrictions on Hubei province being lifted.

The Australian government implemented a ban on public gatherings of more than two people — excluding members of a household – effective from 1930 local time (0830 UTC) on 29 March. The previous day, a measure went into effect requiring all arriving travelers to Australia to undergo a 14-day quarantine at a government-designated facility at their port of entry, without exception.

EUROPE

Europe: As of 30 March 2020, confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue to increase significantly across Europe. At present, there are eight countries that have surpassed 10,000 confirmed cases: Italy (97,689), Spain (85,195), Germany (62,435), France (40,747), the U.K. (19,788), Switzerland (15,475), Belgium (11,899) and the Netherlands (11,814). Most countries in the continent remain under lockdown or quarantine measures, and affected countries continue to extend restrictions into April. Significant transportation disruptions continue due to increased restrictions and travel bans.

On 28 March Ireland implemented nationwide lockdown restrictions that are expected to remain in place through 12 April. During the lockdown, residents are only permitted to leave their homes to travel to work, obtain essential goods, seek medical care or exercise within 2 km (1 mi) of their home. Officials also banned all public and private gatherings and have limited all travel to offshore islands to residents only. Additionally, the U.K.’s island of Jersey announced an island-wide lockdown from 30 March through 30 April.

Meanwhile, Russian officials announced that all border crossings will be indefinitely closed beginning on 30 March. Restrictions apply to all vehicle, rail, pedestrian and sea checkpoints in the country, with exceptions for diplomats and Russian freight drivers. Additionally, officials in Moscow implemented a citywide quarantine. Residents of the city will only be allowed to seek medical care, shop for essential goods or go to work. Authorities stated that special passes would be introduced and will be required for anyone leaving their home.

In Slovenia, officials announced nationwide restrictions on domestic travel and stated that residents would no longer be allowed to travel outside of their home municipality unless traveling to work or seeking medical care. The restrictions also include a requirement to wear gloves and a mask when entering public locations such as markets. Additionally, the country extended a ban on flights from the EU until 13 April and commercial flights from outside of the EU have been banned until further notice.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Middle East and North Africa: As of 30 March 2020, several governments in the Middle East and North Africa have increased domestic and international travel restrictions as part of an overall effort to combat coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The most notable developments in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Turkey are outlined below.

In Saudi Arabia, authorities in Jeddah governorate implemented a mandatory quarantine beginning on 28 March restricting movement in and out of the area. In addition, a daily curfew for the governorate has been extended to 1500-0600 local time (1200-0300 UTC). Curfew exemptions include essential services personnel and travel to seek emergency medical assistance. The cities of Mecca, Medina and Riyadh are also under mandatory quarantine and daily curfew from 1500- 0600 local time at least through 13 April. Meanwhile, Saudi officials announced that current travel and movement restrictions — such as the suspension of all domestic and international commercial flights; the suspension of all inter-city transportation services via bus, taxi or rail; and the mandatory closure of non-essential public and private sector offices — will be extended until further notice. At present, there are at least 1,299 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Saudi Arabia.

In the UAE, officials on 28 March extended the nationwide from 2000-0600 local time (1600-0100 UTC) nightly curfew to 5 April in an effort to sterilize public places and curb the spread of COVID-19. The curfew has been in effect since 26 March. According to the most recent reports, UAE has 468 confirmed COVID-19 cases with two fatalities.

In Egypt, on 27 March officials announced a mandatory 28-day at-home quarantine for travelers and Egyptian nationals coming from abroad. Officials have suspended international flights until 14 April. It is unknown if the quarantine rule will remain in place after international flights resume. Additionally, on 27 March the governor of South Sinai — where Dahab and Sharm El-sheikh are located — closed all beaches in the governorate until further notice. Violators may face criminal charges.

In Turkey, on 27 March officials suspended all international flights to and from the country until further notice. Furthermore, all intercity ground travel is also banned — including between the cities of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir — and is only possible with formal permission from local governors. Domestic flights, however, continue to operate on a very limited basis. Social gatherings are prohibited and most public gathering sites in the country have been closed.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Kenya / South Africa (Security threat levels – 4 / 4): As of 30 March 2020, police officers and military personnel have deployed in countries throughout Africa, in some areas using force to ensure compliance with measures implemented to combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). For example, on the morning of 28 March police officers clashed with local residents in the central business district of Johannesburg. Violence broke out after hundreds of people gathered outside a grocery store in the Yeoville neighborhood. Police officers fired rubber bullets at crowd members not observing social distancing procedures. Following the initial clashes, police officers used whips to further enforce lockdown regulations. An unspecified number of people were injured. Additionally, on 27 March similar clashes occurred after police officers spotted several residents loitering outside of their homes. Police officers used rubber bullets to clear individuals along the streets in Johannesburg. A 21-day lockdown has been in effect since 26 March and is scheduled to last until 16 April. Thus far, there have been 1,280 confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa.

Meanwhile in Kenya, on 27 March security forces used tear gas and batons to disperse people disobeying curfew orders in Mombasa. Dozens of people were attempting to board a ferry ahead of the curfew, but were delayed due to the restrictive measures, including new limitations on ferry capacity to allow for social distancing. There were no reports of serious injuries as a result of the clashes. Thus far, Kenya has at least 42 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Additional such clashes are likely to occur throughout the region as police officers and military personnel enforce lockdowns, curfews and other measures.
Sub-Saharan Africa: As of 30 March 2020, health officials have confirmed nearly 3,000 cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in at least 40 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa as governments continue to introduce and enforce restrictions aimed at preventing further spread of the disease. In Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has announced that a two-week lockdown will go into effect for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) — where Abuja is located — as well as in Lagos and Ogun states beginning at 2300 local time (2200 UTC) on 30 March. The measure extends to nearly 25 million residents, whom authorities have advised to shelter in place and to restrict outside movements to essential activities, such as to procure food and medicine or to seek medical care. All nonessential businesses and workplaces are set to shut down for the duration of the lockdown. In addition, interstate travel between these areas, as well as intercity travel within the states, will be prohibited except for essential personnel or in case of medical emergency. A number of other Nigerian states — including Delta, Ekiti, Enugu, Kaduna, Ogun and Rivers — have also introduced restrictions and lockdown measures amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. At present, there are at least 111 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria, the majority of which are confirmed in the largest cities Abuja and Lagos.

On 28 March Republic of Congo (ROC) President Denis Sassou-Nguesso declared a nationwide public health state of emergency and announced a number of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The measures — which will take effect on 31 March and last until at least 30 April — include confining all people, with the exception of essential personnel, to their homes except for the undertaking of necessary activities, instituting a nationwide nightly curfew from 2000-0500 local time (1900-0400 UTC), closing all nonessential stores, and mobilizing security and defense forces to implement the measures. Thus far, the ROC has recorded at least 19 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Meanwhile, a nationwide lockdown went into effect in Zimbabwe on 30 March; the lockdown will remain in place for at least 21 days, subject to further extension. President Emmerson Mnangagwa has ordered all residents to stay at home and to only leave their homes for essential purposes during the lockdown period. All nonessential businesses are closed; essential personnel — such as health care workers, police officers and other emergency personnel — and those producing basic goods and supplying food are exempt. Public transportation services are also suspended nationwide from 30 March. Mnangagwa has ordered security forces to deploy as needed to ensure the public adheres to the lockdown.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Bahrain (Security threat level – 3): On 30 March 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued an update to its travel advice for Bahrain, which reads in part as follows: "There are currently daily direct flights from Bahrain to London Heathrow operated by Gulf Air. If you are travelling in Bahrain, or otherwise wish to return to the UK, you are strongly advised to return now, where and while there are still commercial routes available."

Tunisia (Security threat level – 3): On 30 March 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued an update to its travel advice for Tunisia regarding a special reparation flight, which reads in part as follows: "UK special flight The UK will operate a special flight from Enfidha Airport on 31 March for British tourists, short term visitors and their direct dependants to return to the UK."

To read the full text of the warning, please click here .
Venezuela (Security threat level – 5): On 27 March 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá, Colombia, issued a Security Alert regarding increased risk to U.S. citizens in Venezuela, which reads in part as follows: “The Venezuela Affairs Unit (VAU) has received credible information that U.S. citizens in Venezuela may currently be at increased risk of threats or aggression from the Venezuelan regime’s armed mercenary groups, known locally as colectivos. The VAU recommends that U.S. citizens and persons directly or indirectly linked to the United States who are currently resident in Venezuela maintain a low profile, and only depart your quarantine location if necessary.”