Worldview Security Update – May 15, 2020
15-May-20

AMERICAS

Guatemala / Panama (Security threat levels – 4 / 3): On 14 May 2020, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giamattei ordered an immediate 24-hour nationwide curfew until 0500 local time (1100 UTC) on 18 May in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The measure bans private vehicles from the roads and suspends most work activities, except for fuel transport, and services involving grocery stores, pharmacies, other essential services and medical facilities. Exempted businesses may only open from 0800-1100 local time. During the curfew, residents must remain at home except for emergency situations. Additionally, face masks and social distancing are mandatory in public. During 18-21 May, Guatemala is expected to adjust its daily curfew from 1700-0500 local time. During this measure, markets will only be allowed to operate on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 0900 until 1700 local time. During 21-25 May, the 24-hour nationwide curfew is expected to be reinstated

In Panama, the first phase of the six-phase “New Normal” plan that reopens businesses and loosen coronavirus-related restrictions began on 13 May. As part of the initial phase, the government lifted restrictions on business operations for online commerce, mechanical repair shops and artisan fishing, as well as maintenance service providers such as electricians and plumbers. The government has not outlined specific dates for the subsequent phases at this time. The beginning of each phase allows for a designated block of businesses to reopen. More information (in Spanish) regarding which restrictions will be lifted during each of the six phases can be found here .  

United States / Canada (Security threat levels – 2 / 2): On the night of 14 May 2020, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order that partially extends the existing stay-at-home order enacted to contain the rapid spread of COVID-19 in certain areas of the state, including New York City, through 13 June. However, select businesses deemed low-risk — including agriculture, construction, forestry, fishing, hunting, manufacturing, retail (curbside pickup services only) and wholesale trade — are permitted to resume operations across the state as of 15 May, when the first phase of the state’s four-phase reopening commences. Reopening businesses must still adhere to the state’s health and hygiene requirements currently in place to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. New York City officials have previously stated that nonessential businesses and other activities in the city are likely to remain suspended until June. The New York City area has the highest rate of COVID-19 infection and resulting fatalities in the U.S; there have been approximately 193,600 confirmed cases, with at least 20,000 deaths in New York County.

Meanwhile, in the Canadian province of Ontario — of which Toronto is the capital — Premier Doug Ford announced a three-stage reopening plan beginning on 19 May, when coronavirus-related restrictions on select businesses are set to be loosened. During the first stage, businesses in the construction sector, retail establishments with street entrances and outdoor recreational facilities may resume operations with social distancing measures in place. The first stage could last from two to four weeks. No specific dates were outlined for the next stage; public health officials will decide on when to proceed to the next stage. Ontario is the second-worst-affected province in Canada after Quebec and has so far recorded approximately 21,500 cases, with at least 1,900 fatalities.

ASIA

Philippines (Security threat level – 4): As of 1700 local time (0900 UTC) on 15 May 2020, Vongfong — locally known as Ambo — has been downgraded to a tropical storm from a typhoon by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). The storm maintained a western path after landfall, weakening into a tropical storm. Ambo damaged electrical poles , road signs and buildings in Northern Samar and Eastern Samar provinces, and brought strong winds to Catanauan in Quezon province, which is located on southern Luzon Island. Heavy rainfall is expected across Luzon, where the capital Manila is located, as Ambo continues moving northwest. At least one person has died so far from storm-related injuries.

Coronavirus-related lockdown measures have complicated evacuation efforts; evacuation centers were only filled to half capacity and evacuees were required to wear face masks. Authorities are reportedly struggling to find locations in which to accommodate the approximately 145,000 evacuees while adhering to quarantine measures.

According to the JTWC, as of 1700 local time Ambo was located approximately 110 km (70 mi) east-southeast of Manila and was moving west at 20 kph (13 mph). At that time, Ambo was generating maximum sustained winds of 111 kph, with gusts of up to 138 kph. On its current path, the storm is forecast to move northwest across Luzon Island before exiting into the South China Sea by 17 May and continuing toward Japan’s Ryukyu Islands.

South Korea / Thailand (Security threat levels – 2 / 3): On 14 May 2020, officials with Korean Air — South Korea’s flag carrier and largest airline — announced that all travelers aboard domestic flights will be required to wear face masks beginning on 18 May. Korean Air officials are reportedly considering a similar rule for international flights.

In Thailand, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) on 15 May ordered Phuket International Airport (VTSP/HKT) to remain closed until further notice, reversing its decision from the previous day that would have allowed the airport to reopen on 16 May. Meanwhile, department stores and malls will be allowed to reopen between 1000 and 2000 local time (0300 and 1300 UTC) daily from 18 May. However, entertainment venues such as movie theaters, skating rinks, bowling alleys, spas and massage centers located within those facilities must remain closed. Elsewhere, fitness centers may reopen with limits on the number of patrons permitted inside at any time. Finally, the nationwide curfew will be shortened to 2300-0400 local time.

EUROPE

Europe: As of 15 May 2020, several governments in Europe are loosening coronavirus-related restrictions on businesses, gatherings and travel, whereas others on the continent are extending the existing restrictions. Significant developments in Germany, Portugal, Spain, Norway and Romania are outlined below.

Officials in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia state — the country’s most populous state, where the major cities of Bonn, Cologne, Düsseldorf and Dortmund are located — lifted the mandatory quarantine for all travelers arriving from EU member countries and the passport-free Schengen Zone. Additionally, German officials indicated that they intend to lift this requirement nationwide in the coming days. Travelers from these locations will only be required to observe self-quarantine if they arrive from an area with a high number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. Travelers arriving in Germany from all other countries outside of Schengen Zone or EU countries will still be required to observe a 14-day self-quarantine upon arrival.

The government of Portugal on 14 May extended a ban on flights to and from countries outside of the EU until 15 June. Officials noted exceptions for flights from the Schengen Zone, Brazil and other Lusophone countries, Canada, South Africa, the U.K., the U.S. and Venezuela. Additionally, Portugal’s land borders with Spain will remain closed, while cruise ships continue to be banned from docking in Portuguese ports, also until 15 June. Concurrently, the government of Spain extended its ban on entry from countries outside of the Schengen Zone through 15 June.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on 15 May stated that Norway is likely to maintain travel restrictions through 20 August as the government balances restarting economic activities and avoiding a second wave of COVID-19 infections. The new order is expected to require 10-day quarantines for all people returning from abroad and ban entry to most non-Norwegians who do not have the right to live or work in Norway. Additionally, the government looks to loosen restrictions on leisure travel among Nordic countries by 15 June.

In Romania, the nationwide state of emergency expired on 14 May. As a result, authorities eased some social distancing measures as part of a less restrictive “state of alert” as of 15 May. Residents may now move freely between communities, while businesses such as salons, dental offices and museums are allowed to reopen. Protective face masks remain mandatory in public spaces, and while aboard public transport. Groups of more than three people in public areas are still prohibited. Authorities will evaluate removing additional restrictions every two weeks.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

United Arab Emirates (Security threat level – 2): On 14 May 2020, officials at Abu Dhabi international Airport (OMAA/AUH) implemented new testing procedures for passengers transiting through the facility, including temperature checks and COVID-19 testing. Individuals are required to undergo a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test upon arrival at the facility and are required to self-isolate for 14 days after entering the country. Passengers departing the facility — depending on their destination’s requirements — are redirected to Terminal 1 to undergo a rapid antibody test. The new testing procedures will be in effect until at least 31 May.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Côte d’Ivoire (Security threat level – 4): On 15 May 2020, authorities began to ease coronavirus-related restrictions in Abidjan, the country’s largest city and commercial center. The nightly curfew in the city is lifted, and maquis (open-air restaurants) may reopen. Bars, nightclubs, theaters and other entertainment venues in the city are expected to begin reopening on 1 June. However, authorities extended the ban on all ground movements into and out of Abidjan through 31 May.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

France (Security threat level – 3): On 15 May 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Paris issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Two demonstrations in Paris (Place de la République and from the Place Vendome to the Place de la Concorde). Additional rallies by separate groups in Toulouse, Montpellier, Albi, and Lyon.

“Event: Demonstrations by various groups are scheduled for Saturday, May 16, 2020 in France. All gatherings greater than 10 people remain prohibited. However, certain groups could defy these instructions and carry on with planned demonstrations, prompting police intervention.”

Guyana (Security threat level – 3): On 14 May 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Georgetown issued a Health Alert, which reads in part as follows: 

“Event: The U.S. Embassy continues to monitor the current situation in Guyana with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic.  We are aware of the hardship land and airspace border closures have created for U.S. citizens who need to return to the United States after Guyana closed its airspace to commercial flights on March 18th. The closure has been extended twice and is set to expire on June 3rd.  To date we have requested special permission from the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority to operate service for six commercial relief flights to transport Americans and their families’ home.  However we have no immediate plans to initiate further relief flight requests at this time. Any U.S. citizen currently in Guyana should continue to shelter in place until further notice. However if you wish to express interest in any future relief flight should one become available, please complete this online form  (copy hyperlink and open in Chrome browser).” 

Nicaragua (Security threat level – 4): On 14 May 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Managua issued a Health Alert regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, which reads in part as follows:

"Event: As of May 14, the Government of Nicaragua has reported 25 cases of COVID-19, including cases transmitted through community spread. Independent health monitors report the actual number of cases is likely much higher. Independent reporting also suggests the spread of COVID may be impacting the ability of the medical system in areas outside of Managua to effectively respond.

"While the Nicaraguan government has not officially announced border restrictions, the land borders with Costa Rica and Honduras are closed. All commercial air service between Nicaragua and the United States remains suspended until at least early June. Additional suspensions, closures, or other restrictions on movement could occur with no advance warning. The Embassy advises U.S. citizens still in Nicaragua to prepare now to shelter in place."

The full text of the Health Alert can be found here .
North Macedonia (Security threat level – 3): On 14 May 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for North Macedonia, which reads in part as follows: "A nationwide curfew is in place every day from 7pm until 5am until further notice.

"Additional curfew measures continue for those aged under 18 and over 67 years of age. People aged under 18 are only permitted to be outside their homes or places of temporary residence between 1pm and 7pm. People aged above 67 years of age, are only permitted to be outside of their homes or places of residence between 5am and 12pm.

"The general curfew does not apply to members of law enforcement bodies, army members, firefighters and people in need of emergency medical assistance, or those in a life-threatening condition and people undergoing dialysis treatments. Public transportation will not be available during this time. Availability of taxis will be limited and taxi drivers will be allowed to transport people only to a healthcare facility or a pharmacy."

Pakistan (Security threat level – 5): On 15 May 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad issued a Health Alert, which reads in part as follows: “Location: Pakistan (country-wide) Event: Update #41 – Suspension of International Flights until May 31

"On May 15, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority extended the suspension of international flights until May 31, 2020, 11:59 p.m. (Pakistan Standard Time).

"The U.S. Mission to Pakistan does not currently have plans to arrange additional charter flights to the United States.”

The full text of the alert can be read here .

Sweden (Security threat level – 2): On 15 May 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Sweden, which reads in part as follows: 

“Like other EU countries, Sweden has banned entry to non-EU and non-EEA citizens arriving from outside of the EU until at least 15 June. British nationals are not affected by this ban.

“Border controls are in place in Sweden for people travelling from Denmark via the Öresund crossing and arriving on ferries from Denmark and Germany. Make sure you carry a passport or national ID card when entering Sweden.”