AMERICAS Argentina / Jamaica / Panama (Security threat levels –...
Americas: As of 21 May 2020, governments throughout the Americas continue to implement and enforce restrictive measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Concurrently, several governments on the continent have started annulling such restrictions. Significant developments in Chile, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico and Venezuela are outlined below.
Chilean officials on 20 May extended city-level quarantine measures in the entire Santiago metropolitan area and the adjacent communities of Colina, Lampa, San Bernardo, Buin, Puente Alto and Padre Hurtado until at least 29 May. Additionally, the municipalities of Alto Hospicio and Iquique in Tarapacá region as well as the cities of Antogasta and Mejillones remain under quarantine until then, while the quarantine in Lonquimay, located in the southern Araucanía region, is scheduled to end on 22 May. Residents of these locations are required to obtain a government permit to travel in order to procure essential goods and services. Chile remains under a nationwide nightly curfew from 2200-0500 local time (0200-0900 UTC).
In the Dominican Republic, authorities on 20 May lifted several social distancing measures as part of the first phase of a four-phased reopening of the economy. Small businesses with 50 employees or less may reopen with a limited number of employees returning to work. Face masks remain mandatory in public places. The nationwide state of emergency, which began on 19 March, remains in effect until 1 June.
In Ecuador, authorities in Guayaquil — the country’s largest city — began easing coronavirus-related restrictions on 20 May following a decline in the number of daily reported deaths. Public transportation resumed operations with reduced capacity while some municipal offices, open markets and shopping centers reopened with limited hours. the city remains under a nightly curfew from 2100-0500 local time (0000-1000 UTC), and all domestic and international flights in Ecuador remain suspended until further notice. Nationwide lockdown measures are expected to last until 16 June.
In Mexico, nonessential businesses in the capital Mexico City will remain closed until at least 15 June. However, the government added the mining, construction, automotive parts manufacturing and alcohol production industries to a list of essential businesses permitted to operate. Authorities have given Mexico City a “red” status, the most restrictive of the three levels of social distancing measures, as part of Mexico’s “New Normal” reopening plan.
In Venezuela, the government enacted a daily curfew from 1600-1000 local time (2000-1400 UTC) on 20 May in the municipalities of Guajira and Jesús María Semprún, located on the border with Colombia, and the municipality of Gran Sabana, located on the border with Brazil. The daily curfew — in effect until further notice — is intended to control the flow of Venezuelan nationals returning to the country due to the COVID-19 outbreak. All travelers who enter Venezuela are screened for COVID-19 and must undergo a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine.
India / Bangladesh (Security threat levels – 3 / 4): As of 21 May 2020, Tropical Cyclone Amphan has weakened to a depression with wind speeds of up to 60 kph (35 mph). The storm continues to move north-northeast across northern Bangladesh and the Indian states of Assam and Meghalaya. According to the most recent update by the Indian Meteorological Department at 1430 local time (0900 UTC), moderate to heavy rainfall is expected in most areas in the storm’s path, with isolated maximums of more than 20 cm (8 in). Overnight, the storm brought approximately 23.5 cm of rain to eastern India and caused widespread damage in areas situated along the India-Bangladesh border.
On 20 May Amphan made landfall in India’s West Bengal state, severely damaging infrastructure and causing power outages throughout West Bengal and Odisha as well along Bangladesh’s coastline. Strong winds and heavy rainfall knocked down power lines leaving over 14 million people in Kolkata without electricity, while flash floods destroyed hundreds of buildings and homes. Additionally, the storm also caused severe flooding and damaged several facilities at Kolkata’s Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (VECC/CCU). The airport was closed prior to the storm due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but has since reopened only for cargo and evacuation flights. The cyclone killed at least 74 people in India and 13 others in Bangladesh.
Malaysia (Security threat level – 3): On 20 May 2020, a government official announced that beginning on 1 June all travelers to Malaysia will be required to pay the cost of their mandatory 14-day quarantine imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Foreign nationals, including permanent residents and spouses of Malaysian nationals, will be required to pay the full cost of 150 Malaysian ringgit (34.50 U.S. dollars) per day, while Malaysian citizens will only be required to pay 50% of that amount. Additionally, all travelers to Malaysia must sign an agreement to pay the cost before they travel.
Europe: On 21 May 2020, authorities in Cyprus removed all coronavirus-related movement restrictions, including the nightly curfew and closure of nonessential business. Air travel and the tourism sector will be allowed to resume operations on 9 June. Hotels will be allowed to reopen, while foreign nationals from a limited number of countries will be granted entry for tourism purposes. Officials have yet to announce which foreign nationals will be allowed into the country and when they may enter; detailed security protocols and travel advice are expected to be issued for the approved countries.
In Spain, the government on 20 May extended the nationwide state of alarm for a fifth time until 7 June amid a steady decline in the rate of new reported COVID-19 infections in the country. Additionally, officials extended the country’s entry ban for travelers from countries outside of the passport-free Schengen Zone until 15 June. Authorities also issued a decree on the compulsory use of face masks for individuals over the age of 6 in enclosed public spaces, where a distance of 2 m (approximately 6.5 ft) cannot be maintained.
In Turkey on 21 May authorities announced nationwide measures to prepare residents for the scheduled curfew during the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which will be in effect from 23-26 May. From 21-22 May, grocery stores and markets are allowed to remain open until 2300 local time (2000 UTC), while people between the ages of 15-20 are permitted to go outside from 1100-1500 local time. Meanwhile, on 23 May stores may open from 1000 to 1700 local time, but are required to close for the remaining curfew days.
Iraq (Security threat level – 5): On 20 May 2020, the Basra Gas Company (BGC) — a joint venture between two foreign companies and Iraq’s state-owned South Gas Company — evacuated at least 60 expatriate workers from Basra to London, U.K., and Rotterdam, Netherlands, until further notice due to protests by local employees over delayed salary payments. No expatriate workers were injured during the protests, and BGC officials stated that the unrest would not likely affect short-term output. Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has promised to address the pay dispute.
Middle East and North Africa: As of 21 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 Algeria, Iraq, Israel, Jordan and Sudan are listed below.
In Algeria, all residents will be required to wear face masks in public places beginning on 23 May. Officials stated that the government will help provide masks to those in need.
In Iraq, a 24-hour curfew will go into effect in the northern governorate of Kirkuk from 24-28 May. Under the order, all retail shops and restaurants will be closed, but medical and security personnel will be exempt from the curfew.
In Israel, on 20 May officials with Israel’s national airline El-Al extended the ongoing suspension of passenger flights until at least 20 June, due in part to low customer demand. However, the airline will continue cargo flights.
In Jordan, officials announced that a nationwide 24-hour curfew will go into effect from 2300 local time (2000 UTC) on 21 May until at least 0800 local time on 25 May. All commercial businesses will be closed during the curfew, and officials encourage individuals to call 911 in the event of an emergency. On 25 May a daily curfew will go into effect from 0800-1900 local time. Vehicles operating during the curfew must adhere to the odd-even license plate policy, where odd and even plate numbers are allowed to travel on different days.
In Sudan, officials extended the 24-hour curfew for Khartoum state — which encompasses the capital Khartoum and the city of Omdurman — through 2 June. Residents are permitted to travel to procure essential goods, such as food or medical supplies, each day from 0600-1300 local time (0400-1100 UTC). Authorities have also extended the nationwide ban on all interstate travel through 2 June and closed all airports until 31 May, with exemptions for cargo and humanitarian aircraft.
Sub-Saharan Africa: On 20 May 2020, Botswana’s government ended the third and final phase of its coronavirus-related lockdown ahead of schedule, but retained the existing zoning strategy. The nine containment zones — Boteti, Chobe, Ghanzi, Greater Francistown, Greater Gaborone, Greater Palapye, Greater Phikwe, Maun and Kgalagadi — are designed to restrict the movement of people and allow a swift lockdown within a zone if the outbreak surges. Public transportation and nonessential facilities, including commercial retail stores, sports facilities and other services, are allowed to operate within each zone, but are subject to social distancing measures where indicated. Officials also designated 13 security checkpoints across the country to ensure that residents abide by the movement restrictions.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, authorities on 20 May implemented a two-week lockdown for the city of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province until 3 June. The order bans all movement into and out of the city, and includes a nightly curfew from 2000-0500 local time (1800-0300 UTC). Additionally, residents are required to wear a face mask while in public. Officials have implemented similar restrictions in the nearby towns of Rutshuru and Kiwanja, which are also located in North Kivu province.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) — Nigeria’s largest medical labor union — has directed its members in Lagos to return to work at 1800 local time (1700 UTC) on 21 May. The NMA launched an indefinite “sit-at-home” strike on the previous evening amid allegations that police officers had been harassing and arresting health care and other essential workers at roadblocks in Lagos during nighttime curfew hours. Union leaders called off the strike after Lagos state officials issued a statement reaffirming that essential workers, including firefighters, journalists and health care personnel, are exempt from the curfew.
Ecuador (Security threat level – 3): On 21 May 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Ecuador, which reads in part as follows: “From 1 June, anyone that wishes to enter Ecuador must present a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test for COVID19, taken no more than 72 hours prior to departing.”
Netherlands (Security threat level – 2): On 20 May 2020, the U.S. Consulate General Amsterdam issued an updated Health Alert, which reads in part as follows:
"Location: The Netherlands
"UPDATE – EU Travel Restrictions: The Dutch government is strictly enforcing the EU travel restrictions banning all non-essential travel from outside the EU. The ban has been extended through June 15, 2020. U.S. citizens (and other non-EU citizens and non-residents) are prohibited from entering the Netherlands except for those in certain categories of travelers including passengers transiting Amsterdam Schiphol airport. U.S. citizens are permitted to transit Schiphol airport, remain airside, and continue onward to the United States. Passengers will not be permitted to exit the transit area and should have a confirmed onward flight to the U.S. prior to commencing travel. Exemptions to entry restrictions only exist for a very small group of travelers, and most U.S. citizens that do not hold Dutch citizenship and/or residency will not be allowed to enter the Netherlands. Although there exists an exemption for “compelling reasons to visit family,” the Dutch are strictly interpreting this as cases involving life or death, such as visiting a terminally ill family member or attendance at a funeral. A fact sheet outlining the Netherlands’ enforcement of EU travel restrictions and applicable exemptions to the ban is available at: https://www.netherlandsandyou.nl/travel-and-residence/visas-for-the-netherlands/qas-travel-restrictions-for-the-netherlands
"Face Masks Mandatory on Public Transport Beginning June 1: The Dutch government has begun easing certain restrictions including re-opening schools, salons, restaurants and bars. However, many restrictions are still in place and effective June 1, the use of non-surgical face masks will become mandatory on public transport. The Dutch government continues to ask everyone to maintain 1.5 meters distance, wash hands often, avoid crowds, work from home as much as possible, and stay home if experiencing fever or other symptoms. Groups of more than two people who do not maintain 1.5-meter (5 feet) separation and who are not from the same family will face fines up to 400 euros. Those who do not have a face masks on buses, trams, and trains will also face fines of 95 euros. Visit the Dutch government’s COVID-19 website for more information on the measures. The English language translation of the Dutch government’s latest announcement regarding the social distancing measures is available at https://www.government.nl/latest/news/2020/05/06/avoid-busy-places-and-stay-1.5-metres-away-from-others .
"The Dutch government has also outlined the next steps in the process of easing restrictions and provided this information at https://www.government.nl/latest/news/2020/05/19/tackling-coronavirus-the-next-step ."
The full text of the alert is available here .