AFRICA Eswatini (Security threat level – 3): Anti-government demonstrators have...
Argentina / Ecuador / Peru / United States (Security threat levels – 3 / 3 / 3 / 2): As of 26 May 2020, governments throughout the Americas continue to implement and enforce restrictive measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Significant developments in Argentina, Brazil and the U.S., Ecuador and Peru are outlined below.
In Argentina, President Alberto Fernández on 23 May extended the country’s quarantine until 7 June — it had been set to expire on 24 May. The extension followed a significant rise in cases of COVID-19 in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area. Meanwhile, in Peru, President Martín Vizcarra on 22 May extended the country’s state of emergency until 30 June – it had been set to expire on 24 May. The previously implemented border closures and movement restrictions have been extended through the same period.
U.S. President Donald Trump on 24 May issued a proclamation suspending foreign nationals traveling from Brazil — which is second to the U.S. in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – from entering the U.S., effective from 2359 local time on 28 May (0359 UTC on 29 May) until further notice. From that date onward, the U.S. will deny entry to any foreign national present in Brazil 14 days preceding arrival to a U.S. air, land or maritime port of entry. The order does not apply to U.S. citizens or permanent residents, aviation or maritime crew members transiting the U.S. under C-1/D visas, or health care personnel working to contain or mitigate COVID-19, among others. Additionally, the proclamation directs relevant U.S. government agencies to establish standards and processes to prevent travelers subject to the directive from boarding U.S.-bound aircraft at the point of departure. The full text of the proclamation is available here .
In Ecuador, thousands of people on 25 May gathered nationwide to protest the ongoing restrictions and the government’s economic response to the pandemic. The largest demonstration took place in the capital Quito, where approximately 2,000 protesters gathered to denounce President Lenin Moreno’s labor cuts and failure to provide adequate government assistance. Demonstrators marched through the streets wearing face masks and carrying signs despite restrictions on large gatherings. Protests also took place in other large cities, including Guayaquil; however, there were no reports of clashes or arrests. Media sources indicate that at least one police officer was injured but did not specify where or how the officer was injured. Separately, authorities on 22 May confirmed that commercial flights will be allowed to resume as of 1 June; however, only 30% of flights that operated in pre-pandemic days will be permitted.
Asia: As of 26 May 2020, governments throughout the Asia-Pacific region continue to maintain restrictions on gatherings and movement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, countries with declining numbers of reported cases are beginning to ease some measures. Developments in India, Japan, Mongolia and Sri Lanka are outlined below.
In India, domestic flights resumed nationwide on 25 May. However, over 80 flights were canceled at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (VIDP/DEL) and more than 20 others were canceled at Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport (VOBL/BLR) due to local restrictions. Many travelers were notified of canceled flights upon arrival at the airports. Additionally, Kolkata’s Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (VECC/CCU) will not resume domestic flight services until at least 28 May due to damage caused by Cyclone Amphan. In related developments, as of 23 May authorities imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all travelers who arrive via air or rail to Indian-administered Kashmir. Authorities are testing travelers for COVID-19; upon receiving negative test results, travelers are allowed to go home. Positive tests result in mandatory hospitalization.
In Japan, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo on 25 May lifted the states of emergency in place for Chiba, Hokkaido, Kanagawa, Saitama and Tokyo prefectures. Emergency measures have now been lifted in all 47 of Japan’s prefectures since authorities first began easing restrictions on 14 May. One of the main criteria for lifting the state of emergency is a COVID-19 infection rate below 0.5 per 100,000 people, which has effectively become the countrywide infection rate. However, officials expanded current entry restrictions to include an additional 11 countries — including Argentina, India and South Africa — beginning on 27 May. Officials will deny entry to foreign nationals who have been in these countries within a 14-day period preceding arrival to Japan. Abe urged residents to remain vigilant and remain in compliance with social distancing and other health measures as part of a “new lifestyle.” Details on government recommendations are available here .
On 25 May Mongolia’s State Emergency Commission (SEC) extended the current nationwide lockdown until at least 30 June. Under the extension, all international commercial flights into and out of the country remain suspended, borders remain closed and the entry ban on foreign nationals remains in place. Travelers eligible to enter under limited exemptions will be required to undergo a 21-day mandatory quarantine in a government-designated facility followed by an additional 14-day self-quarantine at their residence. Additional restrictions and the closure of academic institutions, cultural centers, government offices and nonessential businesses remain in effect.
In Sri Lanka officials on 26 May revised the hours of the nationwide nightly curfew to 2200-0400 local time (1630- 2230 UTC) after reports indicate an absence of new COVID-19 cases since 11 May. Furthermore, officials also eased domestic travel restrictions, including the ban on all inter-district travel except for Colombo and Gampaha. Residents must also continue to adhere to social distancing regulations and wear face masks when outside of their homes. Those who violate guidelines will face penalties such as fines or arrest.
China (Security threat level – 3): At least 30 trade unions in Hong Kong have reportedly called for a general strike on 27 May 2020 due to the central government’s proposed national security legislation as well as a proposed national anthem law slated for debate by the city’s legislature. Protests are likely to develop in response to the legislation; however, expected turnout and possible demonstration sites are currently unknown. As a precaution, authorities have increased security around the Legislative Council building located in the city’s Admiralty area, which is a popular venue for anti-government demonstrations. A ban on gatherings of more than eight people remains in effect until 4 June, and police officers have forcibly dispersed the recent demonstrations that violated the order.
On 24 May police officers deployed tear gas against thousands of demonstrators along Hennessey Road and Percival St in Causeway Bay. Demonstrators gathered at SOGO department store in Causeway Bay and were marching to Wan Chai’s Southorn Playground to protest the proposed national security law. Officials had not authorized the demonstrations due to the current ban on large gatherings. There were no reports of significant injuries, but authorities arrested approximately 200 demonstrators.
Australia (Security threat level – 2): As of 26 May 2020, recovery efforts are ongoing in Perth, the state capital of Western Australia, and elsewhere in the southern areas of the state after a powerful storm swept through an approximately 1,000 km (620 mi) stretch of land from 24-25 May. The latest reports indicate that emergency crews are working to restore electricity in nearly 2,000 homes and businesses in the region. Strong winds with heavy rains downed trees and utility poles, and damaged buildings from the town of Kalbarri to the town of Denmark — located in Australia’s southwestern tip — where wind gusts of up to 132 kph (82 mph) were registered in the early hours of 25 May; other areas in the state experienced gusts of up to 90 kph. There were no reports of weather-related injuries or deaths. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology stated that a winter weather system collided with the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Mangga, resulting in inclement weather conditions. Additional rainfall of between 10-20 mm (0.4-0.8 in) is expected in the state’s South West region, including Perth, on 28-29 May ahead of the upcoming Western Australia Day holiday weekend.
Europe: As of 26 May 2020, governments across 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 Germany, Montenegro, Spain and Russia are outlined below.
In Germany, officials on 26 May announced plans to lift the worldwide travel warning and resume flights to 31 European countries beginning on 15 June. Travel to all 26 EU countries — as well as to the U.K., Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland — will resume, provided that the infection rates continue to decrease throughout Germany and all 31 countries. Germany’s current global travel advisory is expected to be replaced with individual travel advisories for each country and will provide detailed public health guidelines. Additionally, countries must demonstrate sufficient COVID-19 testing capacity and provide adequate quarantine and treatment options for travelers who test positive for the virus. In a related development, officials from German flag-carrier Lufthansa announced plans to partially resume international flights to at least 20 destinations beginning in mid-June. All of the flights will operate between Frankfurt Airport (EDDF/FRA) and a number of international destinations, including Greece’s Crete Island, the Spanish cities of Malaga, Mallorca, Ibiza, and Venice, Italy. Additional destinations are expected to be announced in the coming days.
Also in Germany, thousands of demonstrators gathered nationwide, including in Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich and elsewhere, on 23 May to protest ongoing restrictions, even as authorities continue to ease health rules. Police officers deployed near the protest sites ahead of the demonstrations to enforce social distancing measures and manage crowd sizes. Isolated scuffles occurred in Berlin as riot police moved to disperse the demonstrators; at least 60 protesters were detained, and two police officers suffered minor injuries. There were no reports of clashes at any other protest sites.
In Montenegro, Prime Minister Dusko Markovic declared on 25 May that there were no active COVID-19 cases in Montenegro making it the first coronavirus-free country in Europe. Following the declaration, the prime minister also announced that border crossings will reopen on 1 June to a limited number of countries that meet the criteria of the Institute of Public Health. Foreign nationals from countries that record less than 25 active cases per 100,000 inhabitants will be granted entry and will not be required to undergo COVID-19 testing upon arrival; such countries include Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Poland the Czech Republic, Hungary, Albania and Greece. Overall, Montenegro has recorded 324 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 315 recoveries and nine deaths.
In Spain, authorities announced plans to lift a mandatory 14-day quarantine for arriving travelers on 1 July amid the pressure of thousands of protesters across the country who called on the government to relax restrictions that hinder the country’s travel sector. Under current government restrictions, foreign nationals are not permitted to enter Spain except for transiting EU citizens en route to their final destination. Those eligible to enter Spain under limited exemptions are currently required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. On 23-24 May, thousands of demonstrators gathered in several cities to stage motorized protests. Protesters formed long queues along roadways in Barcelona, Madrid and elsewhere across the country as part of a “Liberty Caravan” organized by the right-wing Vox party. No clashes occurred during the demonstrations.
In Russia, authorities in the Moscow area on 23 May lifted a requirement to obtain a digital pass to transit through the Moscow suburbs; however, travel within and into Moscow city limits still requires a digital pass. The most current Moscow passes expired on 26 May, and new passes may be obtained from the Moscow mayor’s website. Residents in areas governed by digital passes are not allowed to travel without a pass; all commuters are checked at the entrance to subway stations.
Middle East and North Africa: As of 26 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 Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the UAE are outlined below.
In Iran, authorities on 24 May began lifting restrictions to coincide with the Eid al-Fitr holiday. At that time, all cultural sites and museums were permitted to reopen to the public, while religious sites and monuments were allowed to resume operations on 25 May. Visitors to these locations must comply with social distancing measures and wear gloves and face masks at all times. “High-risk businesses” — including gyms, restaurants, theaters and shopping centers — reopened following the end of Ramadan on 23 May; meanwhile, universities will resume classes by 6 June.
In Iraq, authorities on 25 May announced that the nationwide nightly curfew from 1700 to 0500 local time (1400 to 0200 UTC) will be imposed following the expiration of the ongoing 24-hour curfew currently in effect until 31 May for the Eid al-Fitr holiday. The new curfew will remain in effect until further notice. Additional restrictions and preventative health measures are expected to be announced beginning on 1 June.
In Saudi Arabia, authorities announced plans on 25 May to begin easing restrictions in three phases from 28 May to 21 June. During the first phase, officials will lift the nationwide 24-hour curfew and implement a shorter curfew from 1500 to 0600 local time (1200 to 0300 UTC). In addition, residents may travel freely between regions, and retail businesses and nonessential activities may resume. Domestic flights will also resume operations; however, the ban on international flights will remain in place. The second phase will begin on 31 May when the nightly curfew will be revised again from 2000 to 0600 local time. Officials expect to completely remove the nightly curfew by 21 June, allowing for the resumption of most operations and free movement in the country. Residents are advised to maintain social distancing measures and wear face masks in public. The new measures will take effect nationwide, except for Mecca, which will remain one phase behind the rest of the country. The Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages — scheduled to take place from 28 July to 2 August — have also been suspended and gatherings of more than 50 people remain banned until further notice.
In Syria, the government on 26 May lifted the nighttime curfew in all areas it controls and eased movement restrictions. Residents are permitted to travel between governorates without restriction, and public transportation services resumed operating within and between governorates where such services are available. In addition, small shops and commercial marketplaces are now permitted to stay open from 0800 to 1900 local time (0500 to 1600 UTC).
In the UAE, officials in Dubai will gradually begin lifting COVID-19 restrictions on 27 May. Under the new measures, most nonessential businesses and recreational facilities will be allowed to resume operations between 0600 and 2300 local time (0200 and 1900 UTC) at 30% capacity. In addition, Dubai International Airport (OMDB/DXB) will reopen to all inbound citizens and permanent residents as well as to travelers transiting through the country to other destinations; all returning travelers are required to undergo 14-day self-quarantine. Residents are required to wear face masks in public and maintain a distance from other people of at least 2 m (6 ft). Businesses and other facilities that choose to reopen must also enforce social distancing rules and perform nightly sterilization from 2300 to 0600 local time.
Sub-Saharan Africa: As of 26 May 2020, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa has surpassed 116,000 as governments continue to implement restrictions in an effort to prevent further spread of the virus. The most recent notable developments in Eswatini, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, South Africa and Uganda are outlined below.
In Eswatini, authorities extended the nationwide partial lockdown until at least 19 June. Residents are permitted to leave their homes for essential activities, such as banking and grocery shopping, or to seek medical care. All businesses must observe restrictions on occupancy, and public gatherings of more than 20 people are banned. Public transportation continues to operate for essential travel, while all nonessential travel between towns is restricted.
In Guinea-Bissau, President Umaro Sissoco Embaló extended the nationwide state of emergency through 10 June. Under the order, a nationwide nightly curfew is in effect from 2000-0600 local time/ UTC and residents are required to wear face masks in public.
In Liberia, President George Weah extended the nationwide state of emergency until at least 7 June. The nationwide nightly curfew remains in place with reduced hours from 1800 to 0600 local time/UTC. All other restrictions imposed under the national emergency remain in place, including a ban on travel between the country’s 15 counties and a mandatory stay-at-home order except for essential purposes.
In South Africa, on 24 May President Cyril Ramaphosa announced plans to continue easing lockdown restrictions on 1 June, dropping the country from level 4 to level 3 under a national five-tiered alert level system. Under level 3, business sectors including construction, manufacturing, commercial retail, logistics and mining may resume operations at reduced employment levels to ensure adequate social distancing and compliance with other health measures. Furthermore, movement restrictions will be gradually eased to facilitate travel to and from the workplace; however, restrictions on nonessential travel will remain in place. The nationwide ongoing nightly curfew from 2000 to 0500 (1800 to 0300 UTC) will be lifted. Authorities may reimpose levels 4 or 5 restrictions in municipalities designated as COVID-19 hot spots, such as Cape Town, Ekurhuleni, Ethekwini — which comprises Durban — Johannesburg and Tshwane with little notice depending on infection rates. The full text of the national COVID-19 Risk Adjusted Strategy is available here .
In Uganda, officials began lifting lockdown restrictions on 26 May. Transportation restrictions were eased in 95 out of 135 districts across the country, permitting private vehicles to operate on main roads.Public transportation restrictions are likewise expected to begin easing on 4 June. Additionally, shops and restaurants in some areas are allowed to reopen. A total of 40 border districts remain under lockdown. All residents are still required to wear face masks in public, and facilities such as gyms and night clubs remain closed. Public transportation restrictions are likewise expected to begin easing on 4 June.
South Korea (Security threat level – 2): On 25 May 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued an update regarding the status of long-term visa holders, which reads in part as follows:
“From 1 June 2020, foreign nationals residing in South Korea on most types of long-term visa will need to apply for a re-entry permit at a local immigration office or at the airport before undertaking any travel out of South Korea. Those travelling with a re-entry permit will also be required to have a medical examination no earlier than 48 hours before they plan to return to South Korea, and to obtain a medical certificate in English or Korean to present to the Korean authorities on their arrival. The medical certificate must be signed by a medical professional at a recognised medical institution and include the date of the medical examination and either confirmation of a negative test for COVID-19 or a record of the presence or absence of fever, cough, chills, headache, breathing difficulty, muscle pain, and pulmonary symptoms. Long-term visa holders seeking to return to South Korea without a medical certificate may be refused entry.
“Long-term visa holders leaving South Korea without a re-entry permit will have their visa and Alien Registration Card cancelled and will need to obtain a new long-term visa before they can re-enter South Korea.”