Worldview Security Update – May 18, 2020
18-May-20

AMERICAS

Americas: As of 18 May 2020, governments throughout the Americas continue to implement and enforce restrictive measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Significant developments in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras and Panama are outlined below.

In the Dominican Republic, authorities on 15 May extended the current state of emergency — including the nationwide nightly curfew during 1700 to 0600 local time (2100 to 1000 UTC) — until 1 June. Residents must remain indoors except for when procuring essential goods and services. In addition, all air, land and sea borders remain closed, and travel between municipalities and provinces remains prohibited.

In El Salvador, the government on 16 May extended the ongoing nationwide state of emergency for an additional 30 days. Officials have not provided specific details, but they stated that some restrictions are likely to be lifted in the forthcoming weeks, including the absolute quarantine and 24-hour curfew, which are set to expire on 21 May. Currently, public transportation and inter-regional travel remain suspended until further notice.

In Honduras, the government on 17 May extended the ongoing nationwide 24-hour curfew until 1500 local time (2100 UTC) on 24 May. During this time, residents may leave their homes on certain days based on the last digit of their ID or passport number. Meanwhile, essential businesses — such as pharmacies, grocery stores and banks — may open from 0900 to 1700 local time.

In Panama, authorities on 15 May extended the ban on all international and domestic commercial flights until 22 June. An entry ban on foreign nationals also remains in place. Panamanian citizens and permanent residents may return to the country, but must self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival.
Brazil (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 1800 local time (2100 UTC) on 15 May 2020, an Embraer Seneca aircraft operating a medical flight crashed near the municipality of São Benedito in the northeastern Ceará state shortly after takeoff from Sobral Airport (SNOB/QBX). All four occupants abors the aircraft were killed. The aircraft — owned by TopLine air taxi with registration PT-RMN — was transporting a COVID-19 patient to a hospital in Teresina, the state capital of Piauí, when it crashed. An investigation into the crash is ongoing; local reports suggest that adverse weather conditions along the flight route may have contributed to the crash.

United States (Security threat level – 2): As of 0800 local time (1200 UTC) on 18 May 2020, Tropical Storm Arthur was located approximately 50 mi (85 km) east-southeast of Morehead City, North Carolina, and about 50 mi south-southwest of Cape Hatteras, according to the National Hurricane Center. At that point, the storm was moving in a north-northeasterly direction at a speed of 15 mph (24 kph) and had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph with higher gusts. On the current track, Arthur will approach the coastal areas of North Carolina over the next few hours and pass near or just east of the coast later on 18 May. The storm is then forecast to move away from the eastern coast of the U.S. beginning on the night of 18 May. The storm is likely to produce 1-3 in (25-75 mm) of rain, with isolated maximums of up to 5 inches, along the eastern coast of North Carolina. At present, storm-generated swells are affecting parts of the southeastern U.S. coast and are expected to spread northward toward the mid-Atlantic coast on 19 May. These swells can generate hazardous surf and riptide conditions.

A Tropical Storm Warning is currently in effect in the following areas of North Carolina: from Surf City to the town of Duck and from Pamlico County to Albemarle Sounds.

ASIA

Asia: As of 18 May 2020, governments throughout the Asia-Pacific region continue to extend coronavirus-related restrictions such as flight bans, movement controls and business closures. However, countries with continuously decreasing case numbers are beginning to lift preventive measures. Updates for Azerbaijan, India, the Maldives, Nepal and Thailand are outlined below.

In Azerbaijan, authorities on 18 May lifted additional restrictions as part of a national strategy to gradually ease quarantine measures. All museums, public venues and cultural centers may reopen nationwide, and residents 65 years of age and older will be permitted to travel outside their homes for essential activities. Meanwhile, restrictions in the cities of Baku, Ganja, Lankaran and Sumgayit as well as in the Absheron region have been lifted. Residents in these cities may leave their homes without having to obtain authorization from local authorities, and public parks and recreational areas can reopen; however, gatherings of more than 10 people remain prohibited. Cafes and restaurants are permitted to resume dine-in services from 0800 to 1800 local time (0400 to 1400 UTC) with social distancing measures.

On 17 May the Indian government extended the current nationwide lockdown until at least 31 May, including the nightly 1900 to 0700 local time (1330 to 0130 UTC) curfew. In addition, authorities outlined a system whereby states and union territories must designate their respective districts as “Green,” “Orange,” or “Red” zones based on COVID-19 infection rates. Orange and Red zones — the areas with the highest infection rates — may be further subdivided into “Buffer” or “Containment” zones. Movement restrictions and other health measures will be implemented based on each district’s classification. However, a number of restrictions will remain in place nationwide regardless of district designations, including the suspension of all domestic and international commercial flights and metro rail services. Additionally, academic institutions, nonessential businesses, public gathering venues and places of worship will remain closed. Public gatherings for any purpose are prohibited. Limited inter-state passenger travel will be permitted under restrictions and with approval from state officials. The full text of the announcement is available here .

In the Maldives, on 17 May officials extended the curfew in the Greater Malé area — which includes the capital Malé as well as Vilimale and Hulumale — until 28 May. The curfew, which takes effect nightly from 1700-2000 local time (1200-1500 UTC), prohibits the movement of vehicles within Greater Malé and bans all entry and exit from the area. Furthermore, all but essential travel between islands has been suspended until further notice.

On 17 May the government of Nepal extended the current nationwide lockdown until at least 2359 local time (1814 UTC) on 2 June. Under the lockdown, residents may only leave their homes for essential activities, such as to procure necessities or to seek medical care. All domestic and international flights remain suspended until 31 May. Meanwhile, on 16 May the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) extended the suspension of international flights into and out of the country until at least 2359 local time (1659 UTC) on 30 June.

India / Bangladesh (Security threat levels – 3 / 4): As of 0900 UTC on 18 May 2020, Tropical Cyclone Amphan was located approximately 560 km (345 mi) southeast of Visakhapatnam, located in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, and was moving north at 11 kph (7 mph), according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). At that time, Amphan was generating maximum sustained winds of 260 kph, with gusts of up to 315 kph. The storm formed on 16 May and has since strengthened to the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane. Amphan is forecast to make landfall in the state of West Bengal, which borders Bangladesh, by 20 May and bring heavy rains and strong winds. Authorities have warned of a storm surge of 4-5 m (13-16 ft) along coastal areas. While the storm is expected to slightly weaken before making landfall, officials expect that it will cause significant damage in northeastern India and throughout Bangladesh. The Indian government has issued an Orange Alert in Odisha and a Red Alert in West Bengal. Officials in Odisha have started preparation to evacuate an estimated 1.1 million people to shelters before the storm makes landfall.

EUROPE

Europe: As of 18 May 2020, a number of governments in Europe are loosening coronavirus-related restrictions on businesses, gatherings and travel in an effort to resume economic activities, whereas others on the continent are extending existing restrictions. Significant developments in Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, North Macedonia Poland, Serbia, and Spain are outlined below.

In Estonia, authorities plan to gradually ease coronavirus-related restrictions following the expiration of the state of emergency on 18 May. Beginning 1 June, nonessential businesses and entertainment venues may resume operations at 50% capacity, and gatherings of more than 50 people will be allowed. Borders will remain closed to most travelers; however, commuters from nearby countries – including Finland, Latvia and Lithuania – will be allowed to cross land borders without quarantining, although local guidance and containment measures must be followed, while foreign nationals will be allowed to transit through the country.

In Greece, authorities extended the ban on entry to non-EU citizens until at least 15 June, the suspension of flights to and from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the U.K. until at least 31 May, as well as the suspension of flights to and from Greece and three neighboring countries — Albania, North Macedonia and Turkey — until 14 June. Cargo and emergency medical aircraft are exempt from the restrictions. All other travelers must self-quarantine for 14 days on arrival in Greece.

Hungary commenced lifting coronavirus-related restrictions in the capital Budapest on 18 May. Businesses will be permitted to reopen, while cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating may resume dine-in services with social distancing and other public health measures. Public parks, recreational facilities, and outdoor venues may reopen to the public. Residents are required to wear a face mask while in public and aboard public transportation. Academic institutions will remain closed nationwide at least through June.

In Ireland, all arriving passengers — including those from the U.K. — will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival beginning on 18 May, until further notice. Meanwhile, the country enters Phase One of easing coronavirus-related restrictions, after the nationwide lockdown expired on 18 May. Under Phase One, residents will be permitted to leave their homes, exercise within 5 km (3 mi) of their residence and engage in gatherings of no more than four people. In addition, outdoor businesses — such as garden centers and farmers markets — as well as beaches and hiking trails will be allowed to reopen. Residents must follow social distancing regulations and wear face masks while using public transportation and visiting enclosed public areas.

In Italy, officials approved a new order on 16 May that lifts the current ban on all regional and foreign travel as of 3 June. It remains unknown how the new measures will affect land borders and commercial air travel.

In North Macedonia, officials on 15 May extended the current state of emergency until 28 May. Social distancing restrictions — including a nationwide nightly curfew from 1900 to 0500 local time (1700 to 0300 UTC) — remain in place.

In Poland, riot police officers dispersed hundreds of demonstrators who gathered in Warsaw’s Old Town to protest existing coronavirus-related restrictions on 16 May. Police officers deployed tear gas and baton charges to disperse the demonstration, which occurred despite regulations prohibiting large public gatherings. There were no reports of injuries, although a number of protesters were temporarily detained.

In Serbia, authorities partially reopened airports to international commercial flights on 18 May, and also lifted the entry ban on foreign nationals, provided visitors obtain government authorization and a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 72 hours of arrival in Serbia. The PCR test, which uses genetic markers to screen for COVID-19, must be obtained at a national laboratory in the traveler’s departure country. In addition, officials announced plans to launch a web portal through which travelers may apply for entry authorization, although no specific release date was provided.

In Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on 16 May requested an extension to the nationwide state of alarm for an additional 30 days. The extension — the fifth such measure — is intended to be the last and will remain in effect until provinces transition through the country’s phased plan to remove COVID-19 quarantine measures, which officials anticipate may occur by the end of June. Lawmakers are schedule to vote on the proposed extension on 20 May. Concurrently, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in the capital Madrid and other major cities across Spain to protest the government’s handling of the ongoing economic crisis and the pandemic. Residents marched through the streets banging pots and pans and waving anti-government banners. Minor clashes broke out between protesters and police officers; however, there were no reports of injuries.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Middle East and North Africa: As of 18 May 2020, governments throughout the Middle East and North Africa region continue to impose and extend coronavirus-related restrictions such as curfews, flight bans and requirements to wear face masks in public. Additional details for Egypt, Israel, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Sudan are addressed below.

On 17 May Egyptian authorities announced that additional restrictions will be implemented during the Eid al-Fitr holiday from 24-29 May. During this time, the current nationwide curfew will be extended to run from 1700-0600 local time (1500 to 0400 UTC); it currently runs from 2100 to 0600 local time. All public transportation services will be suspended nationwide, and travel between governorates will be prohibited. All public beaches and parks as well as markets and shopping malls will be closed.

These measures comprise the first “strict” phase of a three-part national strategy to gradually ease restrictions in the coming months. Beginning on 30 May, authorities plan to transition to “moderate” restrictions under phase two. From that time, the curfew hours will be amended to 2000-0600 local time for two weeks, and marketplaces and shopping centers may reopen under restrictions; however, residents will be required to wear face masks at all times outside their homes, including aboard public and private transportation. Additional restrictions will be lifted throughout June, and authorities anticipate transitioning to a “relaxed” posture under phase three by July.

In Israel, on 18 May authorities ordered residents in Tel Aviv’s Neve Ofer neighborhood to remain in their homes until further notice after health officials detected a COVID-19 outbreak in the neighborhood. Officials disinfected several public areas in the neighborhood and closed two schools. Additionally, authorities are deploying additional testing resources to the area.

Meanwhile, in Kuwait and Qatar, authorities ordered residents to wear face masks in public until further notice. Violators of the order in Kuwait are subject to a fine of up to 5,000 Kuwaiti dinars (16,200 U.S. dollars) and a maximum jail term of three months. Violators of the order in Qatar are subject to a fine of up to 200,000 rials (54,400 U.S. dollars) and a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

In Oman, officials on 18 May announced new public health measures for the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which will occur on 23 May. The new measures include a ban on gatherings for prayer or recreation, as well as a requirement to wear face masks in public, including aboard public transportation, in workplaces and in commercial facilities. The ban on prayers and public gatherings will only apply to the Eid holiday, while the face mask requirement will remain in place until further notice. Officials also authorized the Royal Omani Police to monitor compliance with public health measures and to impose fines and imprisonment for failing to comply.

In Sudan, authorities announced on 17 May that all domestic and international commercial flights will remain suspended until 31 May. All airports — including Khartoum International Airport (HSSS/KRT) and Port Sudan International Airport (HSPN/PZU) — remain open to cargo and humanitarian aircraft, as well as to authorized flights evacuating foreign nationals or transporting employees of oil companies and related organizations.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Sub-Saharan Africa: As of 18 May 2020, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa has surpassed 85,000 and the governments are employing restrictive measures in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. The most recent notable developments in Botswana, Chad, Kenya, Nigeria and Zimbabwe are outlined below.

In Botswana, on 15 May the government initiated Phase 3 of its plan to gradually ease coronavirus-related restrictions, which is expected to last until 22 May. During this time, commercial retail stores, sports facilities and other services will reopen, and public transportation will resume operations. Residents must continue to adhere to social distancing and are required to wear face masks in public and aboard public transportation. In addition, outdoor activities — including running, walking and cycling — are permitted between 0600- 0900 local time (0400 to 0700 UTC) and 1600-1800 local time. Travel between the nine geographical zones of the country remains suspended except for essential workers and individuals who hold work permits (pink or green permits).

In Chad, the government extended the ban on all international commercial flights into and out of the country until 31 May. Commercial cargo aircraft remain exempt from the restriction. Meanwhile, in Kenya, on 16 May President Uhuru Kenyatta extended the movement restrictions into and out of Kilifi, Kwale, Mandera, Mombasa and Nairobi counties as well as the nationwide nightly curfew from 1900 to 0500 local time (1600 to 0200 UTC) until at least 6 June. In addition, Kenya’s land borders with Somalia and Tanzania have been closed for at least 30 days. Commercial cargo is exempt from the restrictions; however, drivers must be tested for COVID-19 and cleared of infection prior to crossing into Kenya.

In Nigeria, authorities announced on 17 May that they had impounded a private aircraft operated by U.K.-based FlairJet Aviation. Officials previously authorized FlairJet to conduct limited humanitarian and medical evacuation flights into and out of Nigeria; however, the aircraft was allegedly operating unauthorized passenger flights in violation of the country’s current ban on domestic and international flights, which remains in effect through 4 June. Officials stated that a “maximum penalty” will be imposed on the company and the impounded aircraft’s crew members remain in police custody.

In Zimbabwe, on 16 May President Emmerson Mnangagwa extended the current nationwide lockdown indefinitely. Under the extension, nonessential businesses are permitted to operate from 0800 to 1630 local time (0600 to 1430 UTC) in compliance with public health measures. In addition, residents are required to wear face masks in public. Mnangagwa stated that the lockdown and other coronavirus-related restrictions will be reassessed every two weeks. Conversely, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights issued a statement criticizing the order’s extension and called on Mnangagwa to expand COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Namibia (Security threat level – 2): On 18 May 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Windhoek issued a Health Alert regarding commercial flight availability, which reads in part as follows:

"Location: Namibia (countrywide)

"Event: Commercial Flights Available Through Air Namibia

"Air Namibia has informed the U.S. Embassy in Windhoek that it is planning two special commercial flights out of Windhoek for any foreign citizens seeking to depart. One flight, SW9303, will depart Windhoek on May 22 at 7:50 am. It will make stops in the following locations: Luanda, Angola, at 9:30 am local time; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, at 11:30 local time; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, at 18:10 local time, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at 21:40 local time. From any of these destinations, passengers would be expected to arrange for their own onward travel via commercial flights. The cost of the flight to Addis Ababa is N$9,497.00 per person.

"A second flight will travel from Windhoek to Frankfurt, Germany, on May 27. The time and price of the flight to Frankfurt are still being established. Passengers would need to book onward travel to the U.S. via commercial flights. Flights on Air Namibia may be booked directly with Air Namibia by contacting Ebson Ngondo at +264 61 299 6363, +264 81 165 3655, or by email at ebson.ngondo@airnamibia.aero. Please reach out to him today, May 18, if you would like to purchase a seat on one of these flights.

"As a reminder, routine air traffic is not set to resume until June 30 at the earliest, per the measures announced by the Namibian Government. Additional information about these measures, can be found on the Namibian Presidency’s Facebook page ."

The full text of the alert is available here .