Worldview Security Update – May 1, 2020
1-May-20

AMERICAS

Puerto Rico / Venezuela (Security threat levels – 2 / 5): On 30 April 2020, Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez extended the island-wide nightly curfew, which is in effect from 1900-0500 local time (0100-0900 UTC), until 25 May due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, beginning on 4 May residents may exercise outdoors and walk their pets from 0500-1500 local time. In addition, a number of sectors, including finance and real estate, will be allowed to reopen with the condition that all customers must wear a face mask. Beaches, gyms and parks remain closed.

Meanwhile, in Venezuela, authorities on 30 April instituted new price controls for 27 food items, including butter, eggs, powdered milk, some cuts of meat and sausage; the new prices are above the monthly minimum wage the government set earlier in the week of 27 April. The price controls are part of an attempt to slow currency inflation amid a sharp decrease in oil prices, a fuel shortage and a nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19.
United States (Security threat level – 2): Major U.S. airlines have announced a requirement for passengers aboard their aircraft to wear face coverings or masks beginning on 4 May 2020 in an attempt to combat the transmission of COVID-19. Delta and United Airlines, as well as JetBlue, will make such coverings mandatory on 4 May, while the requirement for passengers traveling with Frontier Air goes into effect on 8 May. Additionally, American Airlines will require travelers to wear masks beginning on 11 May. Children and individuals with health conditions which prevent them from wearing masks are exempt from the requirement.

In a separate development, hundreds of protesters gathered at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing on 30 April to demand that the state legislature allow the existing emergency declarations — enacted to combat the COVID-19 pandemic — to expire in order to allow businesses to reopen. A number of participants in the "American Patriot Rally," which the Michigan United for Liberty group organized, were carrying high-powered firearms, and some attempted to enter the Senate floor before law enforcement officers blocked them. However, no violence occurred during the event. The legislature was debating an extension to the state’s current emergency declarations at the time of the rally. Later in the day, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued executive orders to extend the emergency orders — previously slated to expire at 0000 local time (0400 UTC) on 1 May — through 28 May after the legislature failed to ratify a bill that would have renewed the declarations.

ASIA

Asia: On 1 May 2020, Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo stated that he is considering extending the nationwide state of emergency for an additional month due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will announce his final decision on 4 May. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, most areas began transitioning to a “general community quarantine” from an “enhanced community quarantine” on 1 May. Under the new order, some businesses – such as shopping malls – and public transportation may resume operations. However, authorities continue to encourage residents to leave their homes only for essential purposes. Meanwhile, nine high risk areas, including Metro Manila, will remain under an “enhanced community quarantine” until at least 15 May.

In India, the government extended the nationwide stay-at-home order for an additional two weeks beginning on 4 May; all rail, road and air travel will remain prohibited until then. Nonessential travel from 1900-0700 local time (1330-0130 UTC) will also remain strictly banned. Officials will relax some restrictions based on the prevalence of COVID-19 cases and the likelihood of additional transmission. The government divided the country into three color-coded zones (green, orange and red) based on the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in each zone; the country’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued guidelines, relaxing restrictions on several commercial activities in the green and orange zones, whereas areas categorized as red zones will remain under relatively stringent restrictive measures.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Israel / United Arab Emirates (Security threat levels – 3 / 2): On 30 April 2020, several thousand Israeli small-business owners and self-employed individuals rallied in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to protest against coronavirus-related restrictions, and to demand increased financial assistance to businesses and individuals affected by the economic shutdown. Security forces deployed during the demonstrations to enforce social distancing, but there were no reports of violence.

In the United Arab Emirates, officials with Emirates airline on 30 April announced repatriation flights for foreign nationals in the UAE beginning on 2 May. Flights will be available to Frankfurt, London, São Paulo and Shanghai between 2 and 16 May. Passengers must be citizens of the destination country, or otherwise meet entry requirements for the destination country in order to board the aircraft, and are also required to adhere to social distancing and wear masks at Dubai International Airport (OMDB/DXB) and aboard the aircraft.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Sub-Saharan Africa: As of 1 May 2020, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa has reached nearly 39,000 and has now spread to 53 out of 54 countries after Comoros confirmed its first case of the virus on 30 April. The most recent notable developments in Ghana, Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Sierra Leone are outlined below.

In Ghana, President Nana Akufo-Addo on 1 May extended the closure of the country’s air and land borders through at least 31 May. The Ghanaian Health Service recorded 403 new cases of COVID-19 on 30 April — a 24% increase in the total number of cases since 20 April, when Akufo-Addo lifted lockdown measures in the major cities of Accra, Kumasi and Tema.

In the Republic of Congo (ROC), President Denis Sassou-Nguesso extended the nationwide public health state of emergency until 15 May. State of emergency restrictions include confining all residents to their homes except for essential activities, a nightly curfew from 2000 to 0500 local time (1900 to 0400 UTC), the continued closure of all nonessential stores, mandating the use of protective masks in all public locations, and the general mobilization of security forces to ensure compliance with the measures. Additionally, gatherings of more than 50 people remain banned and all borders and schools remain closed.

In Rwanda, authorities announced a decision on 30 April to ease nationwide quarantine measures beginning on 4 May. Markets will reopen for essential vendors as long as they operate at 50% capacity, and manufacturing and construction operations will resume. Hotels and restaurants may resume services, but must close by 1900 local time (1700 UTC) each day. Individual sports are permitted, but sports facilities will remain closed. Schools, places of worship, gyms and recreational centers and bars will remain closed. Additionally, residents must wear face masks in public at all times, resuming businesses and services must follow strict hygiene measures, and a curfew will be in effect from 2000-0500 local time each day. Travel between provinces and Kigali, the capital, will remain restricted. Meanwhile, all borders will remain closed except to cargo shipments, Rwandan nationals and legal residents.

In Sierra Leone, authorities announced that a nationwide lockdown will be implemented from 3-5 May. During this period, all residents will be required to stay at home to the extent possible. In addition to the upcoming lockdown, an indefinite nationwide nightly curfew remains in effect from 2100-0600 local time/UTC.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Burundi (Security threat level – 4): On 30 April 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura issued a message for U.S. citizens regarding the electoral campaign period in Burundi, which reads in part as follows:

“…The campaign period for the Burundian presidential elections officially opened on Monday, April 27. Please continue to employ best practices for your personal safety and security.

“While the campaign and election periods are expected to be peaceful, caution is always advisable. Large gatherings can be unpredictable, and can cause traffic congestion and temporary road closures. Given the unique situation we face regarding COVID-19, exercising good judgement about social distancing and personal protective measures remains critically important.

“Take this opportunity to review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, and monitor local news stations for updates. Ensure that your home and family are prepared in terms of food, water, hygiene items, and the ability to stay in communication with family and colleagues. It is better to always be vigilant and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.”

The full text of the alert is available here .

Greece (Security threat level – 3): On 30 April 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Athens issued a Health Alert outlining the government’s plan to ease coronavirus-related restrictions, which reads in part as follows:

“The Greek authorities announced a gradual re-opening schedule beginning May 4.

“May 4: Masks are mandatory in supermarkets, taxis, hair salons, hospitals, public transportation, hospitals and enclosed places. Those in violation may be fined 150 euros. Movement certificates will no longer be required; however, restrictions remain in effect until May 18 that ban movements outside of your local area. Individual outdoor exercise is permitted while organized beaches remain closed. Certain shops will open including: small shops, bookstores, sports stores, garden shops, consumer goods stores, flower shops, electric appliance stores, optical shops, and – by appointment only – hairdressers.

“May 11: Retail stores open.

“June 1: Malls and year round hotels open.

“Social distancing requirements remain in effect. All measures will be evaluated continuously against the COVID-19 infection rate and may change with little or no notice.”

Lesser Antilles (Security threat level – 1): On 1 May 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for the Turks and Caicos Islands regarding the extension of border closures, which reads in part as follows: 

“The Turks and Caicos Islands’ borders will remain closed until 1 June. During this time, non-residents of the Turks and Caicos Islands will not be allowed entry into the territory.

“Turks and Caicos residents who are currently outside of the territory will still be permitted to return to the Turks and Caicos Islands during this time, but will be subject to requisite health stipulations based on risk assessment.” 

Lesser Antilles (Security threat level – 1): On 1 May 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for St. Kitts and Nevis that reads in part as follows:

“Local measures

“A 24-hour full curfew is in for the weekend 1-5 May including the 4 May Labour Day holiday. A partial curfew has been restored to allow individuals to purchase the necessary supplies to remain in their homes during full 24-hour curfew. The partial curfew is in effect Tuesday 5 – Friday 8 May 6.00 am to 7.00 pm.

“During the extended State of Emergency and the COVID-19 Regulations made under the Emergency Powers Act, no one is permitted to be away from their residence without special exemption as an essential worker or a pass or permission from the Commissioner of Police during full 24-hour curfew.”