Worldview Security Update – May 28, 2020
28-May-20

AMERICAS

Chile / Colombia / Dominican Republic / Panama (Security threat levels – 2 / 4 / 3 / 3): As of 28 May 2020, governments throughout the Americas continue to implement and enforce restrictive measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Significant developments in Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Panama are outlined below.

On 27 May Chile’s Ministry of Health extended quarantine measures across the Santiago metropolitan region, as well as in the municipality of Alto Hospicio and the adjacent city of Iquique, until at least 5 June. Conversely, the ministry indicated that the quarantine will be lifted in the municipalities of Antofagasta and Mejillones from 2200 local time on 29 May (0200 UTC on 30 May). Authorities have erected checkpoints in the quarantined neighborhoods to limit traffic and to conduct health screenings. Additionally, officials have set up sanitary controls at bus terminals nationwide and passengers are now subject to health screenings before being allowed to board. International health experts have reported that the rate of COVID-19 infection is accelerating within Chile and stressed that Latin America had outpaced Europe and the U.S. in the number of daily infections as of late May.

In Colombia, hundreds of intermunicipal bus drivers mobilized in the cities of Bogotá, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Cali, Medellín and Tunja on 27 May to demand that the government allow them to resume operations amid the nationwide quarantine. In Bogotá, approximately 100 demonstrators gathered for a rally at the Transport Terminal of Bogotá. Meanwhile, bus drivers in Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Cali, Medellín and Tunja formed caravans of buses and toured their respective cities before returning the buses to their terminals. There were no reports of protest-related violence or significant transportation disruptions.

In the Dominican Republic, President Danilo Medina on 27 May requested that the legislature approve an extension to the ongoing state of emergency through 27 June; the current order is scheduled to expire on 2 June. The extension also includes maintaining the current nightly curfew from 1900-0500 local time (2300- 0900 UTC) Monday through Saturday and from 1700-0500 local time on Sunday. Lawmakers will vote on the request later on 28 May.

In Panama, the second phase of lifting coronavirus-related restrictions is set to begin on 1 June. Businesses related to the construction, mining and pharmaceutical industries may resume operations, as well as those in the textile, electronics and electricity sectors. Churches, parks and sports arenas may reopen at 25% capacity. A nightly curfew from 1900 to 0500 local time (0000 to 1000 UTC) will replace the current scheduled movement restrictions based on gender and the complete quarantine on Sundays. In addition, children will be permitted to leave their homes if accompanied by an adult guardian from 1600 to 1900 local time.

United States (Security threat level – 2): Overnight on 27-28 May 2020, riots broke out in the northern U.S. city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, amid a second consecutive day of protests over the 25 May death of an African American man in police custody. Rioters set fire to buildings and looted dozens of businesses across the city, most of them located in the area of Minnehaha Avenue and E. Lake Street. Additional stores in the city’s North and South sides were also looted or torched. At least one person was killed and four others suffered gunshot wounds during the riots. The violence followed clashes between police officers and protesters outside the third precinct police station — where police officers fired tear gas, stun grenades and other non-lethal projectiles to disperse the protesters. There were no reports of injuries or arrests during clashes outside the police station.

The significant escalation of violence overnight on 27-28 May prompted state officials to deploy approximately 50-60 Minnesota state troopers to assist the Minneapolis police. The mayor of Minneapolis has requested the support of National Guard personnel to help police officers prevent further violence. Meanwhile, the mayor has also called on prosecutors to file homicide charges against the Caucasian police officer who detained the African American man on 25 May; the detainee subsequently died, and all four police officers involved in the arrest were fired from their jobs the following day. The protests are likely to intensify in Minneapolis and have begun spreading to other U.S. cities. Racial issues remain incendiary in the country and police involvement in the deaths of members of the African American community has triggered prolonged violent protests in U.S. cities in the past.

ASIA

Bangladesh / South Korea / Thailand (Security threat levels – 4 / 2 / 3): On 27 May 2020, Bangladeshi officials announced a partial easing of the nationwide lockdown beginning on 31 May. At that time, all businesses may reopen with additional health measures including, but not limited to, a ban on mass gatherings; a requirement that retail businesses operate only during the hours of 1000-1600 local time (0400-1000 UTC) each day; a nightly curfew from 2000-0600 local time; and a requirement that individuals wear face masks aboard public transportation. Additionally, as of 1 June domestic flights are scheduled to resume on a limited basis at Dhaka’s Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (VGHS/DAC), Chittagong’s Shah Amanat International Airport (VGEG/CGP), Sylhet’s Osmani International Airport (VGSY/ZYL) and Saidpur Airport (VGSD/SPD).

South Korean authorities declared that museums, parks and art galleries will close in the Seoul metropolitan area from 29 May to 14 June after a spike in COVID-19 cases in the region. Additionally, authorities recommend that residents avoid social gatherings as well as restaurants and bars. They have also requested that places of worship adhere to social distancing measures. The government had previously eased coronavirus-related restrictions on 6 May.

In Thailand, the government extended the nationwide state of emergency through 30 June. The nationwide nightly curfew has been shortened by one hour and is now in effect from 2300-0400 local time (1600-2100 UTC); the ban on international flights will remain in place. Businesses classified by the government as “medium” or “high” risk for infections, such as department stores and sports facilities, will be allowed to reopen with the approval of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CSSA). Reopening establishments will have additional health measures in place. The CSSA will issue additional guidance on the types of businesses that may resume operations on 29 May. Officials stated that they seek to lift all business restrictions by 1 July.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Middle East and North Africa: As of 28 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 Jordan, Libya, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are discussed below.

Jordanian officials on 28 May announced that airports in the country will not reopen until at least 1 July. Flights have been suspended since 17 March.

In Libya, authorities in Benghazi on 28 May closed nonessential businesses — such as sports clubs, non-food markets, barber shops, youth centers, restaurants and cafes — and instituted a nightly curfew from 1800-0600 local time (1600-0400 UTC). Grocery stores, mills, vegetable and meat shops are allowed to remain open. Violators will face unspecified legal penalties.

In Saudi Arabia, budget airline Flynas on 27 May announced that its domestic flights will resume on 31 May. The airline will implement strict social distancing measures aboard its aircraft, which include not issuing tickets for middle seats. The airline will offer flights to and from Abha, Dammam, Jeddah, Medinah and Riyadh, among other major cities.

In the UAE, on 27 May officials announced a two-phase plan to reopen government offices in the emirate of Dubai. In the first phase — set to begin on 31 May — government offices will reopen at 50% staffing levels. Subsequently, in the second phase — set to begin on 14 June — the remaining 50% of staff will return to work.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Malawi / Zimbabwe (Security threat levels – 3 / 4): As of 28 May 2020, authorities in Malawi and Zimbabwe are working to locate approximately 500 people who have escaped from COVID-19 quarantine facilities in recent days. At least 400 patients, nearly 30 of whom tested positive for COVID-19, escaped from a facility housed inside a stadium in Blantyre, Malawi’s second largest city. Many of the patients cited poor sanitary conditions at the facility as a motive for fleeing, and reports indicate that health care workers did not attempt to stop the patients due to a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE). Additionally, several police officers guarding the site allegedly received bribes in exchange for allowing patients to exit the facility.

Meanwhile in Zimbabwe, approximately 100 patients have recently escaped from COVID-19 quarantine facilities. Under Zimbabwe’s current restrictions, all returning travelers must observe a 21-day mandatory self-quarantine; most of the patients who escaped had recently returned from neighboring Botswana and South Africa. Health officials on 28 May reported that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe has more than doubled since 24 May, with at least 132 cases recorded thus far.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Georgia (Security threat level – 3): On 27 May 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its travel advice regarding movement restrictions in Georgia, which reads in part as follows:

“The government has announced that municipal public transport (metro, buses and minibuses) will resume from 29 May. Inter-city public transport will resume from 8 June. It will be mandatory to wear masks in all public transport. In areas where there is an unexplained case of coronavirus, lockdown measures may be introduced without warning. Most shops, with the exception of clothes shops, as well as dentists, hairdressers and beauty parlours are now open. Open-air restaurants and shops, as well as malls will re-open from 1 June. Indoor restaurants and hotels that have been licensed following an inspection will re-open from 8 June.

“You must wear a facemask in enclosed spaces such as shops."
Israel (Security threat level – 3): On 28 May 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

"Event: The U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens residing in or considering travel to the West Bank and Gaza to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. Violence can occur with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, government checkpoints, markets and shopping facilities or government facilities. U.S. citizens should carefully consider risks to their personal safety and security when considering visits to sites and events that are potential targets.

"U.S. government personnel and their dependents living and working in Israel are prohibited from engaging in personal travel to the West Bank, with the exception of the portions of Route 1, Route 443, and Route 90 that traverse the West Bank. Official travel of U.S. government personnel is extremely limited throughout the West Bank. The U.S. government prohibits its employees from traveling to Gaza."

North Macedonia (Security threat level – 3): On 27 May 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Skopje issued a Health Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Event: There is no longer a curfew for any age beginning May 27, 2020 per a Government of North Macedonia decision on May 26, 2020.     

“NEW: The Government of North Macedonia announced beginning Wednesday, May 27, 2020 there is no curfew in effect and no other restrictions on movement for any age. Social distancing requirements remain in effect.     

“Restaurants and bars with outside seating areas may open beginning Thursday, May 28, 2020 under specific protocols determined by the Government of North Macedonia.”

The full text of the alert can be found here .