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Worldview Security Update – October 15, 2020
15-Oct-20

AMERICAS

Costa Rica (Security threat level – 3): On the evening of 14 October 2020, protesters and police officers exchanged gunfire in the town of Santa Lucía de Upala, located near the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border. The officers were attempting to dismantle’ roadblocks erected by anti-government demonstrators before the shootings occurred. A protester claiming to be a Nicaraguan national was shot during the clash. Police officers later cleared the barricades and reestablished transit at the nearby unofficial Santa Lucía de San José border crossing.

In a related development, authorities announced earlier on 14 October that an agreement had been reached with protesters in the Southern Zone, which includes the southern portion of Puntarenas province, to remove roadblocks. The government pledged not to pursue a future deal with the International Monetary Fund or modify property taxes and not to impose criminal charges against select protesters. In exchange, the demonstrators have agreed to remove blockades in the Southern Zone; roadblocks still remain at the Paso Canoas border crossing with Panama as well as in other areas in the country.

ASIA

Kyrgyzstan (Security threat level – 4): On the afternoon of 15 October 2020, President Sooronbai Jeenbekov resigned from office. According to the country’s constitution, Speaker of Parliament Kanat Isavev will assume the role of acting president until new elections. However, authorities have not made an official announcement. Jeenbekov previously promised to resign following unrest resulting from the disputed 4 October parliamentary election, although he later amended his position to say that he would resign after new elections were held. In recent days, opposition parties and protesters increased pressure on Jeenbekov to resign and had threatened to march on his compound.

Thailand (Security threat level – 3): As of the evening of 15 October 2020, large-scale anti-government protests are ongoing in central Bangkok at the Ratchaprasong Intersection despite a state of emergency declaration and decree by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha earlier in the day limiting public gatherings to a maximum of five people in an effort to end the protests. There is currently a large presence of police officers at the site attempting to disperse protesters, and police officers could employ heavy-handed tactics to clear the demonstrators. Prior to gathering at Ratchaprasong, demonstrators converged at Government House — the prime minister’s office — where they had gathered the previous day before being dispersed by police officers.

The previous day, thousands of anti-government protesters marched from the Democracy Monument in the capital Bangkok to Government House, demanding Chan-ocha’s resignation as well as constitutional reforms. Thousands of pro-government counterprotesters lined the route to Government House. There were reports of minor altercations between participants of rival protests, but no significant injuries or arrests occurred during the altercations.

EUROPE

France / Ireland / Portugal / United Kingdom (Security threat levels – 3 / 2 / 2 / 3): As of 15 October 2020, governments across Europe have implemented and adapted coronavirus-related measures due to rising COVID-19 cases. Authorities in France, Ireland, Portugal and the U.K. added restrictions to include nationwide states of emergency and restricting travel. Additional details are outlined below.

French President Emmanuel Macron declared a public health state of emergency on 14 October due to the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases. Macron also ordered a nightly curfew from 2100-0600 local time (1800-0400 UTC) in the Ile-de-France region — where the capital Paris is located — as well as in the cities of Lille, Rouen, Saint-Etienne, Toulouse, Lyon, Grenoble, Marseille and Montpellier for at least four weeks as of 17 October. Macron initially expressed a desire to extend the curfew to six weeks. Businesses are allowed to open outside of curfew hours, and public transportation will remain operational. At present, there is no ban on inter-regional travel.

Irish authorities imposed Level 4 restrictions in the counties of Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan on 15 October. Under the new restrictions, set to remain in effect until 10 November, visits to private homes and gardens are banned, weddings are limited to six people, nonessential retail businesses are required to close and all nonessential workers are required to work from home. Additionally, authorities have provided an exemption to the ban on visits to private homes to care for vulnerable people.

In Portugal, the government reimposed a state of calamity as of 0000 local time on 15 October (2300 UTC on 14 October), amid an increasing rate of COVID-19 infections. The declaration prohibits social gatherings of more than five people and seeks legislative approval for an order, which would require the use of face masks in all public spaces and carry financial penalties for those found violating the order. At present, the government allows weddings and baptisms to have up to 50 attendees. Additionally, authorities announced that Portugal’s border with Spain will remain open. It is unknown how long the state of calamity will last.

In the U.K., Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford on 14 October announced a temporary ban on travelers entering Wales from COVID-19 hotspots elsewhere within the U.K. According to Drakeford, the measure will apply to travelers from Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas of England — referencing a newly imposed three-tier system of coronavirus-related restrictions in England. The ban, set to come into force at 1800 local time (1700 UTC) on 16 October, will likely prohibit those traveling from Northern Ireland and central areas of Scotland, including Edinburgh and Glasgow. Similar restrictions were already in place within Wales, preventing individuals from traveling across county lines and implementing local lockdowns in 17 areas.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Israel (Security threat level – 3): On 14 October 2020, officials announced that they will reopen Ben Gurion International Airport (LLBG/TLV) for routine outbound flights as of 0000 local time (2000 UTC) on 16 October. Under the reopening plan, individuals who have tested negative for COVID-19 will be allowed to travel to and from countries with low infection rates — labeled as green countries — without an obligatory quarantine on their return. Meanwhile, travelers to and from countries with high infection rates — labeled as red countries — face a 14-day self-isolation period upon returning to Israel. Authorities suspended departure flights from the airport on 18 September as part of efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Belize (Security threat level – 3): On 14 October 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Belmopan issued a Security Alert regarding a prison break, which reads in part as follows: "Due to the recent escape of 28 prisoners from the Belize Central Prison, we remind all American citizens in Belize to remain vigilant at all times. At this time, additional efforts to detain escapees is underway and unconfirmed reports of gunfire along the Costal Road have been reported. Additionally, one prisoner was detained this morning, and another has been reported shot and killed. Expect to see increased police and military presence in the form of patrols and vehicle checkpoints along highways. Please comply with instructions to stop and answer questions from officers. Additionally, see below a list of best practices to maximize your and your family’s personal safety."

Gabon (Security threat level – 3): On 15 October 2020, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice regarding coronavirus-related restrictions in Gabon, which reads in part as follows:

"The Gabonese Government has extended the state of health emergency for a period of 45 days, until 17 November 2020.

"Domestic flight restrictions have eased to allow four flights per airline per week. Travel outside Libreville to inland Gabon is allowed if you have a negative coronavirus test result that is less than 14 days old. Markets have reopened as normal.

"There is a daily curfew from 8pm to 5am.

"You must wear a mask in public areas.

"Taxis are only permitted to carry up to three passengers.

"Failure to comply with the measures above would constitute a criminal offence and can lead to fines or community service. Check points exist along roads to enforce the above measures."

Sudan (Security threat level – 5): On 15 October 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum issued a Security Alert regarding multiple planned protests in the city, which reads in part as follows:

"Event: Activists in Khartoum have indicated they intend on hosting daily protests over the following week, with a culminating protest on 21 October. Protests may occur anywhere in Khartoum, but historical protest venues include the Jackson Bus Station, the Ministry of Justice, Freedom Yard, and the intersection of Satine (60th Street) and Abdalla Al-Tayeb Street."

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