Worldview Security Update – May 11, 2020
11-May-20

AMERICAS

Argentina / Bolivia / Colombia (Security threat levels – 3 / 3 / 4): In Argentina, authorities extended the stay-at-home order — imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19 — for the capital Buenos Aires until 24 May 2020; however, outside the Buenos Aires metropolitan area, some services were allowed to resume in accordance with the directives of local provinces as of 8 May.

In Bolivia, authorities on 11 May introduced a “dynamic quarantine” system which classifies cities as moderate-, medium- or high-risk based on COVID-19 health data. Quarantine measures vary based on the risk level applied to a municipality, and are subject to review every seven days. The specific restrictions applicable for each risk level are as follows:

High (“alto”) Risk: Residents from 18-65 years of age may leave their homes on foot to procure basic necessities one day per week from 0600-1400 local time (1000-2000 UTC). The specific day when travel is permitted is based on the last number of an individual’s ID card or passport:

  • Monday: 1, 2
  • Tuesday: 3, 4
  • Wednesday: 5, 6
  • Thursday: 7, 8
  • Friday: 9, 0
  • Travel outside the home is prohibited on Saturdays and Sundays.

Medium (“medio”) Risk: Residents may travel to and from work from 0600-1500 local time Monday-Friday. Government authorization is required to use private vehicles, and public transportation is suspended. Nonworking residents between the ages of 18-65 may go outside between 0900-1200 local time from Monday-Friday, but must remain within 500 m (1,640 ft) of their homes. On Saturdays and Sundays, residents may go outside from 0900-1100 local time depending on the last digit of their ID card or passport — even numbers on Saturday and odd numbers on Sunday. A nightly curfew will be in effect from 1700-0500 local time.

Moderate (“moderado”) Risk: Residents may travel to and from work between 0600-1600 local time Monday through Friday. Limited public and private transportation will be permitted. Children and individuals over age 65 may go outside between 0600-1200 local time for two hours from Monday-Friday, but must remain within 500 m of their homes. On Saturdays and Sundays, residents between the ages of 18 to 65 may go outside from 0900-1200. A nightly curfew will be in effect from 1900-0500 local time.

In Colombia, wearing face masks in public became mandatory in the capital Bogotá from 11 May until further notice, which coincides with the phased easing of restrictions on certain businesses. Additional police officers will be deployed to the capital region to enforce the order, and violators may be punished by a fine of approximately 980,657 Colombian pesos (250 U.S. dollars). In a related development, on 10 May Avianca Holdings — the second-largest airline in Latin America — filed for bankruptcy protection as a result of financial shortfalls in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline ceased operating commercial flights in early March after the governments of Colombia, El Salvador and Peru — Avianca’s main hubs — suspended international flights. The carrier is one of the first major airlines worldwide to collapse as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ASIA

Asia / Australasia: As of 11 May 2020, governments throughout the Asia-Pacific region continue to implement coronavirus-related restrictions. However, locations with declining numbers of COVID-19 cases are beginning to ease restrictions and allow greater freedom of movement. Developments in Australia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea and Sri Lanka are outlined below.

In Australia, officials in the state of Western Australia will allow residents to return to work on 18 May. However, no more than 20 people at a time will be allowed to congregate for indoor and outdoor non-work gatherings. Bars, cafes, pubs and restaurants may resume dine-in services, but with a maximum of 20 customers and a minimum distance of 4 sq m (45 sq ft) between tables. A maximum of 20 participants at a time will be allowed to take part in non-contact community sports, as well as indoor and outdoor fitness classes. Authorities will also remove most restrictions on regional travel. All businesses seeking to reopen will be required to complete an official COVID-19 safety plan.

Japanese officials are expected to hold a meeting on 14 May to consider lifting restrictions early for 34 prefectures — not considered to be at high risk for further spread of COVID-19 — ahead of the expiration of the nationwide lockdown on 31 May. At present, 13 of Japan’s 47 prefectures, including Osaka and Tokyo, have been designated as high risk.

In Malaysia, authorities extended the country’s conditional stay-at-home order until 9 June. The traditional mass annual exodus ahead of Eid al-Fitr celebrations called “balik kampong” is also banned. Travel between states is prohibited; however, most businesses reopened and authorities removed roadblocks in the country.

On 11 May New Zealand authorities announced plans to ease coronavirus-related restrictions and transition the country to an alert level 2 from a level 3 on 14 May. At that time, cafes, cinemas, malls, restaurants, retail stores and other public spaces will be allowed to reopen as long as they comply with health and social distancing measures. Schools will be allowed to reopen on 18 May, while bars may reopen on 21 May. Additionally, gatherings of up to 10 people will be permitted.

In Pakistan, authorities on 11 May extended the suspension of domestic flight operations until 13 May. Domestic flights — including chartered and private aircraft — have been suspended since 26 March. International flights have been suspended since 21 March.

In the Philippines, some international flight operations resumed at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (RPLL/MNL) on 11 May. Charter flights are permitted to land at the facility on Mondays and Thursdays, while international commercial flights may land on all other days. Airport authorities must be notified of flight plans at least 48 hours in advance of the scheduled departure, and operations will be limited to a maximum of 400 passengers per day. International and domestic flights remain suspended at all other airports until further notice.

In South Korea, authorities in the capital Seoul re-imposed an order to close all bars, nightclubs and similar establishments on 9 May until further notice following an outbreak of COVID-19 cases in the Itaewon neighborhood. Health officials believe the outbreak cluster is linked to an individual who visited a number of nightclubs in recent days.

In Sri Lanka, authorities began partially lifting some restrictions on 11 May. A number of public and private businesses, including barbershops and small retail establishments, may reopen to the public as long as they comply with social distancing and other health measures. However, public transportation services will remain suspended nationwide for an additional two weeks.

China (Security threat level – 3): On 10 May 2020, a series of “flash mob” rallies occurred in at least eight malls in Hong Kong. Police officers in riot gear deployed across the city and randomly stopped and searched bystanders, including journalists and first aid workers in an effort to identify protesters. At approximately 1620 local time (0825 UTC), several hundred pro-democracy demonstrators gathered at the MOKO shopping mall in Mong Kok. Police officers at the scene demanded that the crowd disperse, stating that they were in violation of social distancing rules. The crowd refused to comply, prompting police officers to deploy pepper balls to disperse the gathering. At least 18 individuals were seriously injured. Police officers detained approximately 230 individuals, including 131 in Mong Kok, as well as a pro-democracy lawmaker.

At approximately 1900 local time on 9 May several dozen demonstrators protested at Diamond Hill and Tai Po. Riot and plainclothes police officers began dispersing the crowd shortly after the protests began. However, there were no reports of violence during demonstrations on 9 May. Separately, at 1300 local time (0500 UTC) on 8 May protesters staged a demonstration at the International Financial Center mall in Central, where they chanted pro-democracy slogans. Approximately 15 minutes after the protest was scheduled to begin, police officers arrived to cordon off large areas of the mall, and attempted to disperse the demonstrators. Police officers briefly clashed with reporters covering the event and deployed pepper spray to disband the journalists. Police officers detained an unknown number of individuals, and fined at least three residents, including a pro-democracy legislator, for breaking social distancing rules.

EUROPE

Europe: As of 11 May 2020, a number of governments in Europe have started easing coronavirus-related restrictions in an effort to resume economic activities. Notable developments in the U.K., Turkey, Russia, France, Cyprus and Germany are addressed below.

On 10 May U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson extended nationwide confinement measures until 1 June and outlined a three-phase national strategy to gradually ease restrictions on businesses and movement, aiming to fully reopen the economy by early July. Government guidelines have been changed to “stay alert” from “stay at home,” with residents advised to remain in their homes as much as possible, continue working from home and observe social distancing and other health measures. The guidelines published on 11 May can be viewed here . Johnson also announced a new five-tier threat level system for COVID-19 monitoring, with England currently transitioning to stage 3 from stage 4; stage 5 represents a situation in which the National Health Service would be overwhelmed, while stage 1 indicates that COVID-19 is no longer present in the country. Additionally, a mandatory quarantine on all inbound air travelers will be implemented in the near term, although additional details regarding the measure have yet to emerge.

In Turkey, authorities began the first phase of a nationwide plan to gradually ease restrictions on 11 May. Barbershops, salons, shopping centers and other retail establishments resumed operations. Residents are required to wear face masks in public, submit to body temperature screenings, and maintain a social distance of at least 10 sq. m (110 sq. ft). In addition, residents over 65 years of age may go outside for exercise between the hours of 1100 to 1500 local time (0800 to 1200 UTC) while remaining within walking distance of their homes. On 13 May children under 14 years of age may go outside during the same time, while individuals between 15 and 20 years of age will be permitted to do so on 15 May. Additional phases of the nationwide plan are set for June and July as long as the public health situation continues to improve.

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin announced the lifting of the nationwide lockdown beginning on 12 May. Nonessential businesses across all sectors will be permitted to reopen throughout the country without restrictions. In addition, regional governors will be granted additional authority to impose restrictions based on local circumstances. Health officials are expected on 12 May to release recommendations outlining a strategy to begin easing restrictions on a regional basis as part of a larger economic recovery plan intended to mitigate the financial impact of the pandemic.

In France, officials began to ease restrictions nationwide, allowing some nonessential businesses and factories to reopen on 11 May. Theatres, restaurants and other entertainment venues, as well as schools and universities nationwide, remain closed through at least June. Additionally, all nonemergency travel of more than 100 km (62 mi) within the country is restricted until further notice.

Conversely, in Cyprus, authorities extended the current suspension of international flights into and out of the country until at least 28 May. Commercial cargo, repatriation of foreign nationals, emergency medical and humanitarian flights will remain exempt from the restrictions.

Meanwhile, thousands of demonstrators gathered in several major German cities — including Berlin, Cologne, Munich and Stuttgart — over the weekend of 9-10 May to protest against restrictions that remain in place nationwide. In Berlin, protesters clashed with police officers at Alexanderplatz square, where officers arrested more than 85 protesters. Meanwhile, in Dortmund, a small number of protesters physically assaulted a group of journalists reporting on the event. A ban on public gatherings of more than 80 people remains in place in Germany.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Saudi Arabia / Iraq / Sudan (Security threat levels – 3 / 5 / 5): On 10 May 2020, Iraqi authorities imposed a nationwide curfew from 1700 to 0500 local time (1400 to 0200 UTC) until further notice, as well as a 24-hour curfew during the Eid Al-Fitr holiday from 24-28 May, in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. During the curfew hours, residents will be prohibited from traveling outside of their homes except for medical emergencies. Elsewhere in Iraq, On 9 May authorities in Basra imposed a lockdown over the Al-Tamimiyah neighborhood until further notice. Residents must remain in their homes and restrict outside travel to procure essential goods and services. Nonessential businesses were ordered to close. Entry and exit to and from the area is prohibited except for health care personnel and commercial cargo operations.

In Saudi Arabia, on 9 May authorities partially relaxed lockdown restrictions — initially imposed on 10 April — in the Bani Dhafar, Bani Khidrah, al-Iskan, al-Juma’a, al-Shuraybat and Qurban neighborhoods of Medina. Residents are now permitted to leave their homes from 0900 to 1700 (0600 to 1400 UTC) to procure essential goods and services, provided they remain within their communities.

In Sudan, authorities extended the 24-hour curfew for Khartoum state — which encompasses the capital Khartoum and the city of Omdurman — through at least 19 May. Residents are permitted to travel for essential purposes — such as to buy food or medical supplies — each day from 0600-1300 local time (0400-1100 UTC). Authorities have also extended the nationwide ban on all long-distance public transportation until further notice.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Chad / Liberia / Zambia (Security threat levels – 5 / 4 / 3): On 8 May 2020, authorities in Chad declared a nationwide health emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and imposed a series of movement restrictions and curfews until at least 22 May. The national capital N’Djamena and all 22 regional capitals were placed under quarantine. Meanwhile, nightly curfews were imposed in N’Djamena and the regions of Logone Occidental, Logone Oriental, Mayo-Kebbi Est and Mayo-Kebbi Ouest from 2000-0500 local time (1900-0400 UTC). Entry and exit to and from the quarantined cities is prohibited except for essential services personnel, and intercity movement is restricted except to procure essential goods and services. A nationwide mandate requiring face masks be worn in public is also in effect. Furthermore, public gatherings are prohibited, and no more than three family members may attend funeral services.

In Liberia, President George Weah extended the nationwide lockdown and state of emergency through 24 May. The extension excludes the previous restrictions on religious gatherings; beginning on 17 May, in-person religious services will be allowed to resume at churches, mosques and other worship centers nationwide at 25% capacity. All other restrictions imposed under the lockdown, including a ban on travel between the country’s 15 counties and a nationwide curfew from 1500-0600 local time/UTC, remain in place.

In Zambia, authorities closed the Nakonde border crossing with Tanzania on 11 May, following a recent increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the town.The border crossing will remain shut down until further notice. Nakonde is a busy border crossing for road and rail traffic, as it lies along Zambia’s Great North Road, the international Tanzam Highway and the TAZARA Railway. Apart from Nakonde, Zambia’s borders remain open to international travelers; however, strict health screening measures are in place and inbound passengers must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the country.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Cameroon (Security threat level – 4): On 9 May 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde issued an alert regarding a charter flight to Washington, D.C., which reads in part as follows:

"Location: Yaounde, Cameroon

"Event: Charter Flight available to U.S. Citizens

"U.S. Embassy Yaounde has arranged a charter flight for U.S. citizens and possibly Legal Permanent Residents. Please read this entire message for details about the flight before making your decision. "If you wish to be on this flight you must reply to this email regardless of any previous communication with us. The flight departs Yaounde NSI Airport this Wednesday, May 13 at 1 p.m. This flight will stop in Abidjan and then proceed to Dublin, Ireland, where passengers will change planes. From Dublin, passengers will fly to Washington, D.C. (Dulles International Airport), arriving at approximately 5:45 a.m. on May 14.

"The final flight cost will be determined by the U.S. Government but could be up to $2870 per passenger regardless of passenger age or seat location. Passengers will not pay beforehand, but rather borrow the cost of the flight from the U.S. Government.

"You are responsible for any arrangements and costs (lodging, connecting flights, local transportation, etc.) beyond Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C.

"No pets are allowed on the flight and each passenger will only be allowed one carry-on bag, one personal item, and two checked bags with a maximum weight of 20kg each. The carry-on must fit under the seat in front of you. There is no option to pay for extra services or excess baggage on the day of the flight.

"If you want to depart on this flight, please email [email protected] with the full name (Last, First, Middle) as it appears in the U.S. passport, date of birth, and U.S. passport number for each traveler in your group. The Cameroonian government requires this information prior to the departure of the flight."

The full text of the alert is available here .

Trinidad & Tobago (Security threat level – 3): On 10 May 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Trinidad and Tobago, which reads in part as follows: 

“On 9 May the Government announced a phased approach to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. In the first phase, from 10 May until 23 May, members of the public are permitted to engage in restricted outdoors activities in groups of no more than five. Food establishments and restaurants are providing take away and delivery services only. All other restrictions, including the “stay at home” order for the non-essential labour force remain in place.

“It continues to be mandatory to wear masks, to cover noses and mouths, in public spaces. You should adhere to all precautionary measures put in place by the local authorities. Schools and universities are also closed until September 2020.”