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March 30, 2021

AMERICAS

Chile (Security threat level – 2): On 29 March 2021, the Ministry of Health adjusted city-level quarantine measures across Chile amid a record-level number of COVID-19 cases, the highest level since the pandemic commenced. All changes will be imposed as of 0500 local time (0800 UTC) on 1 April. The following communities will revert to phase 1 of the government’s five-step quarantine plan: Puchuncaví, Casablanca, The Tabo, La Ligua, Malloa, Pelluhue, Santa Barbara, Victory, Theodore Schmidt, Pucon and Hualaihué. The following communities will revert to phase 2: Maria Elena, San Esteban, Peralillo and Bulnes. The following communities will revert to phase 3: Guaitecas and Cape Horn. The following communities will advance to phase 3: Huarat, San Pedro de Atacama, Petorca and Palena.

Analyst Comment: Chile is experiencing a significant surge in COVID-19 cases. Intensive care units are at 95% capacity, with seven of every 10 ICU beds occupied by a COVID-19 patient. The Ministry of Health reported more than 7,300 new coronavirus cases on the previous day, the fourth consecutive day to exceed 7,000 cases.

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On the afternoon of 29 March 2021, police officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets at anti-government protesters in Champ de Mars park in the capital Port-au-Prince. The demonstrators threw stones at security personnel, set fire to the National Driver’s Insurance Office building and smashed windshields of nearby vehicles. At least three people were reported injured. Additional protests occurred near the Carrefour Aéroport viaduct and Petionville neighborhood. The demonstrators had gathered to commemorate the 34th anniversary of the 1987 Haitian constitution and to protest a new draft constitution that grants additional powers to the president.

Honduras (Security threat level – 4): On 29 March 2021, Honduran authorities announced temporary entry restrictions on travelers from South American countries in an effort to stop the spread of the new strain of the coronavirus that originated in Brazil. The entry restrictions also apply to any Honduran national who has visited a South American country within the last 15 days. Similar bans are in place for travelers from the U.K. and South Africa. All other inbound travelers must present the result of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before arrival or proof of COVID-19 vaccination, as well as register with the government at this link before traveling to Honduras.

ASIA

Bangladesh (Security threat level – 4): On 29 March 2021, Bangladeshi authorities tightened entry restrictions and other measures in an effort to slow the rapidly rising rate of COVID-19 infections in the country. As of 31 March passengers arriving in Bangladesh from the U.K. and other European countries will be required to quarantine for 14 days at a government facility or a government-approved hotel at their own expense, where they will be required to take a COVID-19 test at the end of their quarantine; those with negative results will be allowed to leave the facility, whereas those with positive results will be transported to a government hospital. In regard to passengers arriving from all other countries, health officials at ports of entry will decide whether the travelers need to quarantine at a government-designated location or can self-quarantine at the location of their choice. An existing requirement to display proof of negative results from a COVID-19 PCR test no more than 72 hours old also remains in place.

In addition, the government has imposed occupancy limits on all public transport to 50% of maximum seating capacity, and all hotels, restaurants, nonemergency governmental and nongovernmental offices may operate at 50% of maximum occupancy. Public gatherings are banned in areas with high COVID-19 infection rates. These measures are currently set to be in place through at least 12 April. The Health Ministry has suggested that the government impose partial lockdowns in areas with higher infection rates.

EUROPE

Slovenia (Security threat level – 2): On 28 March 2021, the Slovenian government announced a nationwide lockdown from 1-12 April to curb the spread of COVID-19. Under the restrictions, a nightly curfew from 2200 to 0500 local time (2000-0300 UTC) will be in effect, all outdoor gatherings will be banned and face masks will be mandatory in public spaces. Nonessential businesses and services, including ski resorts, will be required to close, while hotels may only host businesspersons, diplomatic personnel or professional sports teams.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Morocco (Security threat level – 3): As of 0000 local time on 30 March 2021 (2300 UTC on 29 March), flights between Morocco, Spain and France are suspended. The Moroccan government’s ban on flights is effective until further notice. Authorities implemented the ban in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the country. Authorities have also imposed greater screening requirements on special repatriation flights.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Côte d’Ivoire (Security threat level – 4): Overnight on 28-29 March 2021, suspected Islamist militants launched attacks on two security outposts near Côte d’Ivoire’s border with Burkina Faso. According to the military, approximately 60 gunmen perpetrated the attack in the town of Kafolo, killing two soldiers and injuring four others. The military reportedly engaged the militants and repelled them, killing at least three assailants. Meanwhile, an unspecified number of assailants launched an additional attack on the outpost in Kologobo, killing a police officer. While no group has thus far claimed responsibility, authorities suspect that Burkina Faso-based Islamist extremists perpetrated both attacks.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Djibouti (Security threat level – 3): On 30 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows: “On Friday April 9, 2021, Djibouti will hold general elections. In the runup to April 9, it is anticipated that President Guelleh, senior government officials and other prominent party members may be holding and / or attending political rallies. Additionally, the possibility of anti-government events or protests exists. Any of these events will likely add to the increased security presence on the roadways and around the city.

“Rallies, demonstrations, and protests may occur with little notice, and even those intended to be peaceful can escalate into violence. As with any public space, there is also the opportunity for criminal elements or terrorists to target participants, visitors, or the location. If you inadvertently end up in the midst, or close to an event such as this, please reverse course as quickly and safely as possible. You should avoid areas of gatherings, protests, and demonstrations, and exercise caution if unexpectedly in the vicinity of any such events.”

Liechtenstein (Security threat level – 1): On 29 March 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice for Liechtenstein, which reads in part as follows: “Liechtenstein has relaxed some coronavirus restrictions. Private gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed both indoors and outdoors. Public outdoor events of up to 25 people are permitted. All shops, markets and religious institutions are open and medical practitioners (including dentists) have resumed non-urgent treatment. Cultural, entertainment, recreational and indoor sports establishments are open. Outdoor sports remain permitted, subject to compliance with social distancing measures; this includes the Malbun ski resort. Restaurants, bars and nightclubs remain closed until at least 19 April 2021.”

March 29, 2021

AMERICAS

Brazil (Security threat level – 3): On 26 March 2021, authorities in the state of São Paulo extended the ongoing coronavirus-related state of emergency and associated restrictions until 11 April due to a spike in local COVID-19 cases. The measures were scheduled to expire on 30 March. Under the restrictions, a nightly curfew from 2000-0500 local time (2300-0800 UTC) is in effect, and all beaches and parks are closed.

Colombia (Security threat level – 4): At approximately 1530 local time (2030 UTC) on 26 March 2021, a car bomb exploded in front of the mayor’s office in central Corinto, a town located nearly 60 km (37 mi) southeast of the city of Cali. The explosion caused significant damage to buildings near the town square; the mayor’s office and nearby police station sustained the most significant damage. The blast wounded 43 individuals, six of whom suffered serious injuries. The government has blamed the attack on the Dagoberto Ramos Mobile Column, a dissident faction of the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) insurgent group.

United States (Security threat level – 2): On the weekend of 27-28 March 2021, heavy rainfall across the U.S. state of Tennessee caused significant flooding in Nashville, the state capital, where more than 7 in (175 mm) of rain was recorded during the two-day period. Floodwaters inundated dozens of homes and businesses in the city. Multiple highways, including a stretch of Interstate 40, were temporarily shut down due to high levels of water. Emergency crews rescued at least 130 people from flooded homes and vehicles stranded on submerged roadways in the city. There were four flooding-related fatalities. In response to the damage caused by widespread flooding, the mayor of Nashville on 28 March declared a local state of emergency to aid in recovery efforts.

United States (Security threat level – 2): On the night of 26 March 2021, three separate shooting events occurred in the Oceanfront area of the city of Virginia Beach, located in the U.S. state of Virginia. At approximately 2320 local time (0320 UTC on 27 March), officers from the Virginia Beach Police Department (VBPD) responded to reports of gunfire in the popular tourist area and found eight individuals with gunshot wounds. Police officers arrested three individuals in connection to the first shooting, which took place during a physical altercation among a group of individuals. A few minutes later, a second shooting occurred in the vicinity of the initial event, during which one passerby was killed. In addition, a police officer shot and killed an armed man during a third event in the same area. Amid these events, a vehicle struck a police officer, who suffered only minor injuries. Authorities are investigating the three shootings, which appear to be unrelated.

ASIA

Bangladesh (Security threat level – 4): On 28 March 2021, a countrywide general strike occurred in Bangladesh to denounce the government’s use of force during demonstrations organized to protest Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit from 26-27 March to commemorate Bangladesh’s 50th Independence Day. Thousands of mostly student protesters associated with the Hefazat-e-Islam Islamist group gathered in the Sanarpara area of the Narayanganj district and blocked a stretch of the main highway connecting the capital Dhaka to the southeastern port city of Chattogram (Chittagong). Security personnel deployed tear gas canisters and fired rubber bullets at protesters who set ablaze a number of vehicles. At least one person was shot in the area. Meanwhile, protesters set fire to two buses in the western Rajshahi district. In the eastern town of Brahmanbaria, members of the Hefazat-e-Islam group attacked a train and damaged its engine and passenger carriages. At least 10 people were injured in the event. Additionally, security forces in the city used live ammunition during clashes with student protesters the previous day; five individuals were killed and at least 15 others suffered injuries. Officials stated that 13 people were killed during violent protests in the country from 26-28 March.

Indonesia (Security threat level – 4): At approximately 0045 local time on 29 March 2021 (1745 UTC on 28 March), an explosion and subsequent fire occurred at the Pertamina Balongan Refinery oil facility in Indramayu, West Java, located approximately 165 km (105 mi) northeast of the capital Jakarta. At least 20 people suffered injuries, including five with serious burns. Authorities evacuated approximately 900 residents of a nearby village. The cause of the explosion remains unknown.

Indonesia (Security threat level – 4): At approximately 1030 local time (0230 UTC) on 28 March 2021, a suicide bombing occurred outside of a crowded Catholic church in the city center area of Makassar, located on Sulawesi island, during a Palm Sunday Mass. One of the two attackers, who arrived on a motorcycle, detonated his explosives near the main entrance of the cathedral when security personnel prevented the duo from entering the compound. The explosion killed both attackers and wounded at least 20 people, including churchgoers and four security guards. Authorities believe the assailants — a newlywed couple who received online training for manufacturing bombs — were members of the Jemaah Anshorut Daulah militant group, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

Philippines (Security threat level – 4): As of 29 March 2021, authorities have enacted lockdown measures in Metro Manila and the surrounding provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. The measures will remain in effect until 4 April. Under the restrictions, a nightly curfew from 1800 to 0500 local time (1000-2100 UTC) is in effect, face masks are mandatory for individuals on public and private transportation, and only essential businesses — such as supermarkets and pharmacies — are allowed to be open. Meanwhile, outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people are banned, as are indoor gatherings of people from different households.

AUSTRALASIA

Australia (Security threat level – 2): On 29 March 2021, the premier of the state of Queensland announced that Brisbane — the state capital — and surrounding areas, including Logan, Moreton Bay, Ipswich and Redlands, will be placed on a three-day lockdown after health officials detected a cluster outbreak of COVID-19 in the city. The lockdown began at 1700 local time (0700 UTC) and will continue until 1 April. Residents of those areas are required to stay home unless they meet one of the standards for exemption, which include essential work, grocery shopping, exercise and caregiving. Nonessential businesses and schools are required to close during the lockdown.

In related developments, authorities in various states announced entry restrictions in response to the lockdown in the greater Brisbane area. Residents returning to South Australia from the Brisbane area must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine and are required to take COVID-19 tests on the fifth and 12th days of quarantine. In Victoria, individuals must apply for a “red zone” permit, and if approved, must self-isolate for 14 days upon entry; as of 30 March, only travelers with valid exemptions will be permitted entry from Queensland. Individuals seeking to enter Tasmania from the Brisbane area are now required to quarantine for 14 days before entry.

EUROPE

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 2200 local time/UTC on 26 March 2021, police officers forcibly dispersed approximately 1,000 individuals who had gathered outside the New Bridewell police station in central Bristol, located in southwestern England, to protest a new policing bill. Mounted police officers, along with canine units, deployed and used baton charges on protesters, who threw firecrackers and various other projectiles at the officers. However, no injuries were reported in the clashes. Authorities arrested 10 individuals. The demonstration was organized to protest the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill — currently making its way through the U.K. Parliament — that would grant additional powers to police officials in England and Wales to tackle protests.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Oman / Jordan / Lebanon (Security threat levels – 2 / 3 / 4): As of 29 March 2021, authorities in Jordan, Lebanon and Oman have announced revisions to their policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional details are available below.

On 28 March Jordanian authorities extended the country’s partial lockdown until at least 15 April. The partial lockdown includes a nightly curfew for individuals from 1900-0600 local time (1700-0400 UTC) and from 1800-0600 local time for businesses. Meanwhile, the 24-hour weekly curfew from Thursday to Saturday, which starts at 1900 local time on Thursdays and ends at 0600 local time on Saturdays, will also remain in effect.

Lebanese authorities on 26 March announced that a nationwide curfew will go into effect for the Easter holiday weekend. The curfew will begin at 0500 local time (0200 UTC) on 3 April and last until 0500 local time on 6 April. Grocery stores will be exempt from the curfew, and there will be exceptions for emergency situations. Authorities strongly encourage individuals to refrain from hosting private gatherings for the holiday.

Omani authorities on 28 March implemented a nationwide nightly curfew from 2000-0500 local time (1600-0100 UTC). Exemptions to the curfew are in place for individuals working in essential fields, including medical personnel, sanitation workers, airport employees and workers in the petroleum industry.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Guatemala (Security threat level – 4): On 26 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows: “The U.S. Embassy advises that, due to ongoing security threats, the following departments remain under continued travel restrictions to Embassy personnel until further notice: Huehuetenango (with the exception of the city of Huehuetenango), and San Marcos (with the exception of the city of San Marcos). U.S. Embassy personnel and family members are restricted from personal travel to these departments, with the exception of the aforementioned cities, and must receive approval for official travel.”

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On 26 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows: “Political opposition groups intend to demonstrate throughout Downtown/Champs de Mars, Carrefour Aeroport, Nazon, Lalue, Bourdon, Juvenat, Delmas and Petionville areas from March 28-30, 2021. Please remain vigilant as large gatherings of this sort, while largely peaceful, can become unpredictable. Please avoid unnnecessary travel in this area at this time.”

Myanmar (Security threat level – 4): On 28 March 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) updated its travel advice for Myanmar to include the following: “The FCDO advises British nationals in Myanmar to leave the country by commercial means as soon as possible. This change in the level of advice follows a significant increase in the level of recent violence on 27 March.”

Analyst Comment: Prior to the latest update, the U.K. government advised its citizens to “leave the country by commercial means, unless there is an urgent need to stay.”

Oman / United Arab Emirates (Security threat levels – 2 / 2): On 26 March 2021, the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) issued a Maritime Alert, which reads in part as follows: “A maritime incident has been reported in the Arabian Sea in the vicinity of 16-12N 062-45E on March 25, 2021 (GMT). The nature of the incident is reported to be an explosion aboard a commercial vessel. Exercise caution when transiting this area. U.S. commercial vessels operating in this area should review U.S. Maritime Advisory 2021-001 for points of contact. This Alert will automatically expire on April 02, 2021. Any maritime industry questions regarding this alert should be directed to [email protected].”

March 26, 2021

AMERICAS

Argentina / Chile (Security threat levels – 3 / 2): On 25 March 2021, the Argentine government announced that flights from Brazil, Chile and Mexico will be suspended as of 27 March to curb the spread of COVID-19. The suspension will remain in effect until further notice. Additionally, Argentine nationals and residents will be required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival, submit to another test upon arrival and take a third test on day seven of the mandatory 10-day self-quarantine at a government-approved location. Foreign nationals who are not residents of Argentina remain banned from entry for tourism purposes.

Chilean authorities have announced additional coronavirus-related restrictions for the Santiago metropolitan region, effective as of 0500 local time (0800 UTC) on 27 March. The following 13 communes will join the 38 communes already under quarantine restrictions: Alhué, Colina, Conchalí, Huechuraba, Lampa, Las Condes, Lo Barnechea, Paine, Providencia, Quilicura, Recoleta, San José de Maipo, Tiltil and Vitacura. Measures include a ban on most private and public gatherings, the closure of nonessential businesses and schools, and a temporary suspension of permits that previously allowed residents to leave their residences to acquire groceries.

United States (Security threat level – 2): On 25 March 2021, multiple tornadoes struck the U.S. state of Alabama amid severe thunderstorms that affected the southern region of the country. Strong winds associated with the inclement weather downed trees and utility poles, causing power outages in Alabama and the nearby state of Georgia; as of last report, more than 40,000 homes and businesses in the two states were without electricity. In Alabama’s Calhoun County, a tornado swept through the town of Ohatchee, located approximately 60 mi (100 km) northeast of the city of Birmingham, destroying multiple residences. Four people were killed in Ohatchee and an additional fatality occurred in the town of Wellington. Hundreds of buildings were damaged across Alabama during the inclement weather. Meteorologists have warned of a marginal threat of severe storms on 26 March in the states of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, along with parts of Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee, stretching up to the northeastern region of the United States.

ASIA

Bangladesh (Security threat level – 4): On 26 March 2021, protests broke out in several cities, including the capital Dhaka as well as Chattogram (Chittagong), in response to a visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for Bangladesh’s Independence Day holiday. In Dhaka, police officers deployed tear gas and rubber bullets near the Baitul Mokarram mosque to separate rival groups of demonstrators. Reports indicate that at least 40 people suffered injuries during the unrest. There were no indications that the unrest impacted Modi’s meetings with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

In related developments, police officers in Chattogram’s Hathazari area fired rubber bullets, tear gas and several rounds of live ammunition as they attempted to disperse hundreds of anti-Modi protesters associated with the Hefazat-e-Islam group. The demonstrators reportedly marched to a police station and began throwing rocks and debris, prompting security forces to deploy the crowd control measures. At least four people were killed and dozens more suffered injuries.

Thailand (Security threat level – 3): On 26 March 2021, Thai authorities announced plans to allow foreign nationals who have received COVID-19 vaccinations to travel to Phuket as of 1 July without quarantining upon entry. Travelers allowed to enter Phuket will be required to present evidence of full vaccination, along with negative COVID-19 test results and must download a tracking app on their mobile device. Officials stated that if the plan is successful, they intend to expand it to other tourist areas in the country.

EUROPE

Austria / Romania (Security threat levels – 2 / 2): On 24 March 2021, Austrian authorities announced a coronavirus-related lockdown for the states of Burgenland, Lower Austria and Vienna — where the capital city Vienna is located — from 1-6 April. A 24-hour stay-at-home order will be in effect, with exemptions in place for errands such as visiting health care centers. Nonessential businesses must close. FFP2 face masks are required in public areas and indoor settings, where more than one person is present. Those commuting to and from high-risk areas or abroad for work must be tested for COVID-19 twice a week. Employees must either work from home or be tested once a week. The measures could be extended, depending on the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates.

Romanian officials have announced increased coronavirus-related restrictions that will take effect on 28 March. Communities with COVID-19 infection rates of more than 7.5 cases per 1,000 residents will be subject to a nightly curfew beginning at 2000 local time (2200 UTC), two hours earlier than the areas with lower infection rates. In communities with infection rates of more than four cases per 1,000 residents, shops must close by 1800 local time Friday through Sunday.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Egypt (Security threat level – 4): On the afternoon of 26 March 2021, two trains collided near the central city of Tahta, located in Sohag province, causing three passenger carriages to derail from the railway track. According to railway officials, an unknown individual activated the emergency brakes of an Alexandria-bound passenger train, which then made an unanticipated stop, and which was struck by another train traveling in the same direction. Two passenger carriages were destroyed and another flipped over following the collision. The Health Ministry stated that 32 people were killed and 66 others were injured in the event. At least 50 of those injured were transported to four local hospitals for treatment.

Israel / Iran / Oman (Security threat levels – 3 / 3 / 2): At approximately 0400 local time (0000 UTC) on 25 March 2021, an anti-ship missile struck an Israeli-owned tanker off the coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea. The vessel has been identified as the Lori, a Liberian-flagged container ship — owned by a Haifa-based firm — that was transporting goods from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to the Indian state of Gujarat. The missile caused damage to the vessel, which briefly came to a full stop and floated for approximately three hours before regaining speed and proceeding to Gujarat’s port of Mundra. There were no reports of casualties in the attack. An Israeli security official blamed the Iranian military for perpetrating the attack.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Kenya (Security threat level – 4): On 26 March 2021, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a new lockdown in the counties of Kajiado, Machakos, Nairobi — which encompasses the capital city of the same name — and Nakuru, due to a spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases. Under the lockdown, which will go into effect at 0000 local time on 27 March (2100 UTC on 26 March), travel between the counties is not permitted; all in-person classes will be suspended; all bars must close; nonessential businesses face new restrictions on operating hours; and a 2000-0400 local time nightly curfew will be in effect.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Cyprus (Security threat level – 2): On 26 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Nicosia issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows: “A large demonstration is expected beginning at 5:00pm on Saturday, March 27 in Nicosia. Protestors are expected to march from the Ministry of Interior towards Eleftherias Square. Cyprus National Police officers will be present.”

Mali (Security threat level – 5): On 25 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Bamako issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“The movement “Yerewolo, debout sur les remparts” (Patriots Standing up on the Ramparts) has called for a protest against the presence of French troops in Mali. The protest is slated to occur at 2:00 PM on Friday, March 26, 2021, along the Boulevard de l’Indépendance. Malian authorities are aware of, but have not yet approved, the protest.

“Additionally, the Military Defense Committee (CDM) is planning a large meeting to be held on Friday, March 26 at 2:00 PM in memory of the 33 FAMa soldiers killed in Tessit on March 15. The meeting will take place at the Palais des Sports in ACI 2000. Malian authorities are aware of, but have not yet approved, the meeting.

“Demonstrations sometimes turn violent, resulting in the burning of tires, clashes with the police, blockage on the roads and bridges, throwing of rocks at vehicles, the deployment of tear gas, and small arms fire.”

Myanmar (Security threat level – 4): On 26 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Yangon issued an update regarding Myanmar’s security situation, which reads in part as follows: “Armed Forces’ Day is tomorrow, March 27. The Embassy is unable to confirm any information about increased security force or protest activities for this weekend. However, you may consider avoiding unnecessary travel tomorrow and remaining close to home as a precautionary measure. Please ensure you have a plan in place to contact loved ones should internet service become unavailable. If the security situation destabilizes, remain at home until you deem it is safe to go back out.

“Over the past several days, the size of protests in Yangon and elsewhere have decreased significantly; however, security forces continue to resort to forceful tactics, including the use of tear gas and live ammunition against civilians resulting in deaths and injuries. Roadblocks, either created by security forces or by community watch members, may exist. There are reports of more security checkpoints appearing on major roads leading into Yangon and other major cities. Be prepared to stop and show proof of identity and residency. Expect traffic delays.

“There are reports that security forces at some of these checkpoints have inspected the phones or laptops of travelers, including foreign nationals, for any evidence of their involvement in anti-regime activities. Please consider what information you want to store on your phone and other devices when traveling.

“In the event you are approached by local law enforcement, identify yourself as a U.S. citizen and attempt to return home or to a public space as soon as possible. A best practice is to carry your U.S. passport to aid in identification. If local law enforcement comes to your home, comply and indicate that you are a U.S. citizen. For your awareness, it is illegal in Burma to take photos or videos of security force operations or military facilities. Police may take action against individuals attempting to do so.

“As of today, martial law is still in place in Yangon in the following townships: Hlaing Thar Yar, North Dagon, South Dagon, Shwe Pyi Thar, Dagon Seikkan, and North Okkalapa. In Mandalay, martial law has been enacted in the following townships: Aung Myay Thar Zan, Chan Aye Thar Zan, Chan Mya Tha Si, Maha Aung Myay, Pyigyidagun. In these townships, martial law may suspend certain civil liberties allowing security forces to be more aggressive in response to protests and in the enforcement of laws and regulations. U.S. Embassy staff have been advised not to travel to the above-mentioned townships in Yangon without prior approval.”

The full text of the message — which includes information regarding the nationwide curfew as well as the availability of essential goods and services — is available here.

March 25, 2021

AMERICAS

Costa Rica (Security threat level – 3): On 23 March 2021, authorities announced that Costa Rica’s land borders with Nicaragua and Panama will reopen for tourism purposes beginning on 5 April. Travelers will be required to complete an online Health Pass form within 48 hours prior to arrival and possess proof of valid international health insurance with COVID-19 coverage for potential testing; insurance from a Costa Rican provider is also available for purchase. Costa Rica’s land borders have been closed for nonessential travel since March 2020.

Paraguay (Security threat level – 3): On 24 March 2021, authorities announced that additional coronavirus-related restrictions will be imposed during Holy Week, which runs from 27 March to 4 April. A countrywide nightly curfew will be in effect from 2000 to 0500 local time (2300 to 0800 UTC). Residents must also remain home during daytime hours except for visits to essential businesses such as pharmacies, supermarkets, health care centers and government buildings. Nonessential stores will be allowed to offer delivery services only, but may operate 24 hours a day. Schools and universities may only hold virtual classes. Police officers and soldiers will be deployed to enforce the new restrictions, which are meant to limit the spread of COVID-19 in light of Paraguay’s hospital system being on the verge of collapsing from high numbers of COVID-19 cases.

ASIA

North Korea (Security threat level – 3): Shortly after 0700 local time on 25 March 2021 (2200 UTC on 24 March), the North Korean military test-fired two short-range ballistic missiles from the Hamju area of the northeastern South Hamgyong province. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff stated that the two projectiles, which were launched within an interval of approximately 20 minutes, traveled nearly 450 km (280 mi) and reached an altitude of up to 60 km before landing in the East Sea outside of the Japanese exclusive economic zone. The exact type of missiles that were fired is currently unknown. There were no reports of damage. This was the first such ballistic missile test since 28 March 2020, when the North Korean military fired two missiles from the port city of Wonsan, which flew about 225 km before landing in the East Sea.

EUROPE

Belgium (Security threat level – 3): On 24 March 2021, authorities announced that heightened coronavirus-related restrictions will be in effect from 27 March to 24 April. Schools and hair salons must close, with schools scheduled to reopen on 19 April. Residents may shop at nonessential stores by appointment only. The nightly curfew — which is in effect in the capital Brussels from 2200 to 0500 local time (2100 to 0400 UTC), and elsewhere from 0000 to 0500 local time — will remain in place. Gatherings may only have a maximum of four attendees.

Cyprus (Security threat level – 2): On 25 March 2021, authorities announced that travelers from Lebanon will be permitted to arrive at Cypriot airports beginning on 1 April. Individuals coming from Lebanon must follow the coronavirus-related entry requirements in place for high-risk countries, which include displaying proof of negative results from a PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival. Travelers must also register online for a Cyprus Flight Pass within 24 hours before travel.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Egypt (Security threat level – 4): As of the afternoon hours of 25 March 2021, the Suez Canal remains blocked in both directions after a Panama-flagged cargo ship — operated by a major Taiwanese shipping firm — ran aground diagonally in the canal on 23 March. Officials from a Dutch salvage company announced that they are sending equipment and personnel to aid in the recovery effort. The salvage company’s chief executive officer stated that efforts to remove the vessel could take several days or possibly weeks. Reports indicate that dozens of cargo vessels and oil tankers are waiting on both sides of the canal to pass through the waterway. The Taiwanese firm stated that strong winds overwhelmed the vessel — which is nearly 400 m (1,312 ft) long and 59 meters wide — when it entered the canal; winds of up to 50 kph (30 mph) were recorded in the area at the time of the incident.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Mauritania (Security threat level – 4): On 25 March 2021, security forces arrested an individual at Nouakchott-Oumtounsy International Airport (GQNO/NKC) after he had hijacked an unoccupied Mauritania Airlines aircraft. During the standoff, the hijacker threatened to blow up the aircraft, but authorities have not reported finding any explosives. The hijacker’s motive remains unclear, but authorities claim that he had a grievance against Mauritania, and the incident does not appear to be connected to international terrorism. There were no reports of disruptions at the facility or damage to the aircraft.

Analyst Comment: The attempted hijacking at Nouakchott-Oumtounsy International Airport is the first major security incident at the facility since it opened in 2016, and it raises questions about the attentiveness of Mauritanian security forces. The effects of the event on the facility are still unclear, as commercial flights to and from Mauritania are already limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mozambique (Security threat level – 4): On 24 March 2021, Islamist militants attacked Palma, a town located in the northern Cabo Delgado province. Local sources indicate that the militants attacked a hotel, banks, stores and barracks of the riot police in the town. Government soldiers engaged the assailants and reportedly retook control of the town in the early hours of 25 March. Reports of casualties or damage have yet to emerge. Militants affiliated with the Islamic State group have largely retained control of the nearby port town of Mocimboa da Praia since August 2020. The attack occurred shortly after the French oil company Total announced plans to resume operations at a key liquified natural gas (LNG) project, located on the Afungi Peninsula in the same province; operations at the project were suspended in January following several attacks near the facility.

Somalia (Security threat level – 5): At approximately 1030 local time (0730 UTC) on 25 March 2021, al-Shabab militants fired as many as eight mortar rounds toward Mogadishu’s Halane base camp — the headquarters of the U.N. and African Union peacekeeping forces — which houses several Western diplomatic missions. A local police official stated that several mortar rounds landed in a residential neighborhood near Aden Adde International Airport (HCMM/MGQ), located adjacent to the base. At least three people were killed and five others were wounded. Mortar shells also reportedly landed in and near the airport facility but there have been no reports of damage. The presidents of Jubaland and Puntland were holding a meeting at the base at the time of the attack.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Democratic Republic Of The Congo (Security threat level – 4): On 24 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa issued a Security Alert regarding potential attacks and kidnappings, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Garamba National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

“Event: Armed groups may attack or kidnap foreign nationals in Garamba National Park. We advise U.S. citizens to not travel to Haut-Uele Province in the Travel Advisory for the DRC.

“Actions to Take:

  • Do not travel to the eastern DRC, including Haut-Uele Province.
  • Read the Travel Advisory for the DRC.
  • Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
  • Review your personal security plans.
  • Keep a low profile.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.”

March 24, 2021

AMERICAS

Colombia (Security threat level – 4): On 23 March 2021, the governor of the department of Antioquia, which includes the city of Medellín, announced a coronavirus-related nightly curfew and ban on the sale of alcohol from 25 March to 5 April. The nightly curfew will be in effect from 0000 to 0500 local time (0500-1000 UTC). Authorities imposed the measures due to a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the department.

Guatemala (Security threat level – 4): Flight operations at Guatemala City’s La Aurora International Airport (MGGT/GUA) have resumed as of 0700 local time (1300 UTC) on 24 March 2021, after being suspended for approximately 24 hours due to ashfall from the Pacaya volcano, located nearly 40 km (25 mi) southwest of the airport. The airport reopened after emergency crews and airport workers removed ash particles from the runway and other areas of the facility. At least nine international aircraft were grounded at the facility during the closure, and an inbound flight from the U.S. city of Los Angeles was diverted to El Salvador. The National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction stated that additional ashfall may affect Guatemala City in the coming hours or days if the wind shifts directions.

ASIA

India (Security threat level – 3): On 23 March 2021, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) extended an existing coronavirus-related ban on all international commercial flights through 30 April. The ban does not apply to cargo aircraft or other international flights approved by the DGCA. Select international commercial flights may be approved by the DGCA on a case-by-case basis. Domestic flights within India are not affected by the DGCA restriction.

Meanwhile, on 24 March authorities in the capital New Delhi ordered randomized COVID-19 tests at all airports, bus stops and train stations in the city amid a notable surge in COVID-19 cases. Local officials are expected to increase surveillance of cinema halls, the metro rail and places of worship to enforce restrictions regarding face masks and maintaining social distancing measures in public spaces. Additionally, all public gatherings to celebrate the upcoming festivals of Holi, Chaitra Navratri and Shab-e-Barat have been banned.

EUROPE

Germany (Security threat level – 3): On 24 March 2021, during a meeting with state leaders, Chancellor Angela Merkel canceled a planned nationwide coronavirus-related lockdown during 1-5 April for the Easter holiday. Under the now-annulled order — which Merkel announced the previous day — most shops would have been required to close, while grocery stores could open only on 3 April. Additionally, all public gatherings would have been banned and no more than five adults from two households would have been permitted to gather at a time. Merkel cited challenges with implementing the plan as a reason for its cancellation. Plans to halt reopenings in locations with 100 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over a seven-day period remain in effect, and other existing countrywide restrictions are currently scheduled to remain in place until 18 April.

Netherlands (Security threat level – 2): On 23 March 2021, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte extended an ongoing countrywide lockdown until 20 April in an effort to control a rapid surge of new COVID-19 infections and subsequent hospitalizations. An existing 2100 to 0430 local time (2000-0330 UTC) nightly curfew — which has been in effect since 23 January — will begin an hour later at 2100 local time as of 31 March after daylight saving time goes into effect on 28 March. During the lockdown, essential businesses — such as grocery stores, pharmacies and banks — are allowed to remain open, whereas nonessential businesses — such as bars, cafes and restaurants — are restricted to providing takeout services only. Other nonessential establishments, including museums, theaters and fitness centers, will remain shut down. All businesses have been permitted to offer curbside pick-up services since 10 February. Gatherings of more than two people from separate households are prohibited, both indoors and out. Additionally, residents are now advised to avoid all nonessential foreign travel through 15 May and stay indoors as much as possible. Additional details as outlined by the Dutch government are available here.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Botswana (Security threat level – 2): On 23 March 2021, the government extended the existing nationwide coronavirus-related curfew, which is in effect nightly from 2000-0400 local time (1800-0200 UTC), until at least 31 March. Individuals are required to carry a movement permit during the curfew, proving that they have a valid reason to be outdoors. Large public gatherings in the country remain suspended, with exceptions for funerals, religious gatherings and cultural events, which are permitted with restrictions.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Belarus (Security threat level – 3): On 23 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Minsk issued a Security Alert regarding the upcoming Freedom Day holiday on 25 March, which reads in part as follows: “Location: Public areas throughout Minsk and the rest of Belarus.

“Event: The U.S. Embassy reminds U.S. citizens to exercise increased awareness and vigilance March 25-28 regarding potential rallies, assemblies, protests, and demonstrations within the Republic of Belarus in association with Freedom Day, March 25. U.S. citizens are therefore advised to be cautious when moving around the country, and should avoid public demonstrations, large gatherings of people, and other events associated with this unofficial holiday.

“Although the U.S. Embassy is not aware of legally authorized demonstrations or protests, such events may occur spontaneously or with little advanced notice. The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that authorized or unauthorized gatherings could develop at various locations throughout Minsk or the country.

“The U.S. Embassy reminds U.S. citizens to avoid public demonstrations, to remain aware of their surroundings, and that gatherings intended to be peaceful can quickly become confrontational and escalate into violence. Furthermore, these activities may cause disruptions to public transportation services, traffic delays and/or street closures, and an increased police presence around rally sites.”

Ecuador (Security threat level – 3): On 23 March 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice for Ecuador, which reads in part as follows: “Travellers who have had the complete COVID-19 vaccination dose can present their vaccination certificate instead of the negative RT-PCR or Antigen rapid test. Local residents and people qualified as ‘priority attention groups’ such as people over 65 years old, children and pregnant women, are allowed to self-isolate at their homes.”

Ethiopia (Security threat level – 4): On 24 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa issued a Health Alert regarding a rise in COVID-19 cases, which reads in part as follows:

“Event: COVID-19 Rates Spiking; Hospital Beds for COVID Patients Full

“Community transmission of the coronavirus in Ethiopia is widespread and accelerating rapidly. Public and private hospitals in Addis Ababa are reporting that their COVID bedspace is full. Life-saving oxygen and medical supplies are difficult to secure. Through March 20, 2021, there have been 185,641 reported cases and 2,647 deaths resulting from COVID-19 in Ethiopia. The 14-day trends of new cases and percent positivity are both increasing drastically. An increase in new cases of 66% percent and an increase in the percent positive by 43% percent were observed over this two-week period.

“The U.S. Embassy is unable to secure a bed or other medical care for American citizens at private or public hospitals, nor can it provide medical care for private citizens. If you must travel to Ethiopia at this time, you should have travel insurance that includes coverage for an air ambulance evacuation in the event you have symptomatic COVID-19. You cannot travel on a commercial airline out of Ethiopia if you are acutely ill with COVID-19. If you are already in Ethiopia, maintain strict COVID mitigation measures, such as frequent hand washing, social distancing in public, avoiding large crowds of any kind, and mask wearing in public places.”

The full text of the alert is available here.

Ukraine (Security threat level – 4): On 24 March 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice for Ukraine regarding a new coronavirus-related entry requirement, which reads in part as follows: “From 24 March 2021, non-resident foreign nationals entering Ukraine must undergo a PCR test and receive a negative result no more than 72 hours in advance of their arrival in Ukraine.”

March 23, 2021

AMERICAS

Guatemala (Security threat level – 4): At approximately 0630 local time (1230 UTC) on 23 March 2021, the general director of civil aviation announced that flight operations at Guatemala City’s La Aurora International Airport (MGGT/GUA) have been suspended due to ashfall from the Pacaya Volcano, located nearly 40 km (25 mi) southwest of the airport. A shift in wind direction transported ash particles toward the airport, where they have covered the facility’s only runway. Ashfall has also been reported in the city of Villa Nueva and in the towns of El Pepinal, San Francisco de Sales, Los Pocitos, Los Dolores, Mesillas Altas, Besillas Bajas, and Santa Elena Barillas. The Pacaya Volcano has been experiencing increased activity since mid-February.

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On the afternoon of 22 March 2021, members of the Fantom 509 gang — composed of renegade police officers — opened fire on active-duty police officers in the Delmas 32 neighborhood of the capital Port-au-Prince. At least one on-duty police officer was killed and another was critically wounded. Fantom 509 members also looted an international vehicle dealership and stole multiple vehicles and motorcycles before a rival gang drove them away. The Fantom 509 group has increasingly perpetrated violent acts in the capital since 15 March, demanding that authorities retrieve the bodies of five of their colleagues held by gang members in the Village of God informal settlement.

United States (Security threat level – 2): At approximately 1430 local time (2030 UTC) on 22 March 2021, a gunman opened fire inside a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, a city located nearly 30 mi (50 km) northwest of Denver, the state capital. Hundreds of law enforcement officers arrived at the King Soopers supermarket, situated in a busy shopping plaza, following reports of an active shooter and advised individuals to avoid the area. A total of 10 people were killed in the event, including the police officer who initially arrived at the scene. Authorities arrested the suspected assailant, who suffered non-fatal wounds and remains in police custody. Local, state and federal officials have launched a probe to determine a possible motive for the shooting.

EUROPE

Germany (Security threat level – 3): On 23 March 2021, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the extension of ongoing nationwide coronavirus-related restrictions until 18 April in a continued effort to control the surge of COVID-19 infections. Merkel also announced a strict lockdown during the Easter holiday from 1-5 April. During the Easter holiday, most shops will be required to close, while grocery stores will be permitted to open only on 3 April. All public gatherings will be banned and no more than five adults from two households will be permitted to gather at a time. Additionally, German nationals and residents who travel abroad during this period will be required to take a COVID-19 test prior to returning to Germany.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Niger (Security threat level – 5): On 21 March 2021, dozens of unidentified militants riding motorcycles attacked at least three villages and an unspecified number of nomadic camps in the Tahoua region, which is located near the Niger-Mali border. According to the Nigerien government, at least 137 civilians were killed – marking this occurrence as the largest massacre by suspected jihadists in Niger to date. The casualty count may rise with the emergence of additional information, which is slow to appear due to the isolated nature of the area as well as poor telecommunications infrastructure. While no group has thus far claimed responsibility for the attacks, security sources allege that the militants were Islamic State fighters.

Analyst Comment: Such attacks have increased in frequency in western and southwestern Niger in recent months, particularly in the weeks surrounding the election of President Mohamed Bazoum in February 2021.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Honduras (Security threat level – 4): On 22 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa issued a Health Alert regarding the nationwide nightly curfew, which reads in part as follows: “The Government of Honduras has extended the national curfew from March 22, 2021 until March 28, 2021 from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. During the week, shopping and essential activities will be allowed daily from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. without regard to identification number, in all departments.

“Businesses are only allowed to have 50% capacity.

“Bars, nightclubs, gyms, sports complexes, convention centers, theaters, and educational centers are prohibited from operation. Meetings in private homes may not exceed 10 people, unless previously authorized by Sinager.

“The only people who are allowed to circulate outside of the curfew are people conducting the following activities: security; health; emergency; public transportation for humanitarian reasons and contracted by businesses that are within the exceptions to mobilize their workers; transport of heavy cargo; energy; telecommunications; internet; media; hotels; Honduran and foreign nationals that arrive in the country on night flights, providing a ticket with their final destination; agrochemical and agriculture sector; technical and administrative support personnel from the banking system; those needed to guarantee the production and distribution of food; machine industry, markets, supermarkets; gas stations; drug stores; pharmacies; and biosecurity products, that work shifts seven days of the week and at night.”

Jamaica (Security threat level – 3): On 23 March 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice for Jamaica regarding the coronavirus-related curfew, which reads in part as follows: “There is an island wide curfew from 8pm to 5am and with extended hours for weekends and public holidays.

“The curfew hours are:

  • 23 March to 26 March: 8pm to 5am
  • 27 March to 29 March: 12 noon to 5am (all day curfew on 28 March)
  • 29 March to 31 March: 8pm to 5am
  • 1 April to 3 April: 8pm to 5am (all day curfew on 2 April)
  • 3 April to 6 April: 12 noon to 5am (all day curfew on 4 and 5 April)
  • 6 April to 9 April: 8pm to 5am
  • 10 April to 12 April: 12 noon to 5am (all day curfew on 11 April)
  • 13 April: 8pm to 5am”

Kuwait (Security threat level – 2): On 23 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait City issued a Health Alert, which reads in part as follows: “On March 22, the government of Kuwait announced changes to curfew restrictions and entry requirements.

“Curfew Restrictions

“Starting March 23, curfew will begin one hour later. Curfew will be in effect from 6:00 PM to 5:00 AM daily until April 8. U.S. citizens should observe the restrictions announced by the Kuwaiti government during the curfew period. “There is a new period for walking outdoors in one’s neighborhood from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM. Restaurants may now deliver until 10:00 PM.

“Entry Requirements

“Entry to Kuwait for non-Kuwaiti citizens remains suspended until further notice. There are exceptions available for first-degree relatives of Kuwaiti citizens and domestic employees traveling with them. Details on this and other possible exceptions can be found at corona.e.gov.kw/en. A valid visa or residency is required for entry. “Passengers who are permitted to arrive in Kuwait must still undergo seven (7) days of institutional quarantine upon arrival at a hotel in Kuwait, at their own expense, and seven (7) days of home quarantine after a negative PCR test on day six. Passengers in the below categories are now excluded from the institutional quarantine requirement and are instead subject to a 7-day home quarantine with a PCR test on the seventh day. Those who:

  • “have had two COVID-19 vaccine shots with the second at least two weeks prior to entry,
  • “have had one COVID-19 vaccine shot at least five weeks prior to entry,
  • “have recovered from COVID-19 and who have had one vaccine shot at least two weeks prior to entry.”

Madagascar (Security threat level – 3): On 23 March 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice for Madagascar regarding coronavirus-related flight restrictions, which reads in part as follow: “Tourist flights to/from the island of Nosy Be had restarted on 1 October 2020, but international flights to/from Nosy Be are again temporarily suspended from 27 March, and domestic routes between Nosy Be and the mainland of Madagascar are suspended from 23 March.”

Mali (Security threat level – 5): On 22 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Bamako issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows: “The Public Transportation Union and the Association of Markets have announced a plan to observe a 72-hour nationwide strike effective at midnight tonight, March 22-23. The strike is a call for measures to address living expenses, a new toll road system, the allocation of land titles, and the freedom of movement of people and goods within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

“Tensions may occur between transporters on strike and others refusing to stop working, which may result in violence. Additionally, traffic may be disrupted.”

The full text of the alert can be read here.

March 22, 2021

AMERICAS

United States (Security threat level – 2): On the evening of 21 March 2021, officials in the city of Miami Beach, Florida, extended a state of emergency and accompanying 2000-0600 local time (0000-1000 UTC) nightly curfew in the South Beach entertainment district. Officials imposed the restrictions, which will be in effect every Thursday to Sunday until 12 April, in an effort to prohibit large gatherings during the spring break holiday. Vehicular traffic on eastbound lanes of the causeways — which connect the island city to mainland Miami — will be prohibited nightly from 2200-0600 local time. Exemptions to the eastbound lane closures are in place for city residents, hotel guests and employees of businesses in the city traveling on the Julia Tuttle and MacArthur causeways, while only city residents are allowed to travel on the Venetian Causeway. Sidewalk cafes and outdoor dining restaurants must close daily at 1900 local time, although restaurants may continue offering delivery services. The full text of the order is available here.

Officials instituted the measures after thousands of tourists, who were visiting the city for spring break, damaged restaurants, brawled on the streets and did not employ precautions to mitigate the threat of COVID-19, such as wearing face masks or observing social distancing measures. On 20 March police officers fired pepper balls to enforce the curfew after it went into effect at 2000 local time. Authorities arrested approximately 50 people during the weekend of 20-21 March.

ASIA

Japan (Security threat level – 1): On 20 March 2021, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Organizing Committee announced that international spectators will be barred from entering Japan to attend the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games — which will take place from 23 July to 8 August and 24 August to 5 September, respectively — due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Officials promised to refund tickets already sold to international spectators. Additionally, the organizing committees added that most foreign volunteers will not be allowed to assist with the games, although some exceptions exist for individuals who are fluent in certain languages.

Japan (Security threat level – 1): At 1809 local time (0909 UTC) on 20 March 2021, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck approximately 27 km (17 mi) east-northeast of the city of Ishinomaki at a depth of 54 km, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Very strong shaking was felt in Sendai, while weak to light shaking was felt as far away as the capital Tokyo. The U.S. Tsunami Warning System issued a tsunami threat warning for coastal areas of Japan located within 300 km of the epicenter of the earthquake, and the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) warned that areas in the Miyagi prefecture may experience tsunami waves of up to 1 m (3 ft) in height. According to local media reports, some coastal areas were impacted by tsunami waves of up to 3 meters. All tsunami advisories were lifted by 1930 local time. At least eight people suffered minor quake-related injuries, but there were no reports of significant damage. Approximately 200 homes lost power temporarily. As a precaution, authorities briefly suspended operations at the Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant to check for damage, and also inspected the offline Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant — located approximately 95 km south of Sendai — for potential damage; the Fukushima plant experienced a meltdown in 2011 due to a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. However, reports indicate that neither facility was damaged. All Shinkansen bullet train services were suspended in the region until 2200 local time while authorities inspected for possible damage to the railway tracks.

Thailand (Security threat level – 3): On 20 March 2021, police officers deployed tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse anti-government demonstrators in the capital Bangkok. Clashes began after demonstrators tore down part of a wall of shipping containers that authorities had set up to block demonstrators from reaching the Grand Palace in the city center. Approximately 1,000 demonstrators had gathered in the Royal Field area, located close to the Grand Palace, to demand the release of protest leaders authorities arrested for their involvement in previous protests to demand reforms to the monarchy. At least 20 civilians and 13 police officers were injured in the violence. Authorities arrested 20 individuals for violating the coronavirus-related ban on public gatherings and for insulting the monarchy.

AUSTRALASIA

Australia (Security threat level – 2): As of 22 March 2021, all coastal areas in New South Wales state are under a severe weather warning amid torrential rainfall and subsequent extensive flooding over the past four days. Authorities have declared a natural disaster across a large portion of the state, where approximately 18,000 people were forced to evacuate their residences; about 15,000 of those were evacuated from the Mid-North Coast and an additional 3,000 people were evacuated from western Sydney. The heavy rains caused flooding of the Hawkesbury River, which runs north and west of Sydney, and the Nepean River — which is located to the west and southwest of Sydney. In addition, the Warragamba Dam, the main water source for Sydney, has overflowed. Other rivers and dams across the state also overflowed as isolated maximum rainfall of up to 100 cm (40 in) was recorded in the state. A number of major roads across the state are impassable and flights at Newcastle Airport (YWLM/NTL) — located nearly 185 km (115 mi) north of Sydney — were suspended on 21 March after the airport’s sole runway was inundated; the facility is anticipated to remain closed until 24 March. The Australian military will deploy helicopters on 23 March to assist in the ongoing search and rescue operations. The Bureau of Meteorology has warned of additional heavy rainfall and strong winds in New South Wales on 23 March.

EUROPE

Norway (Security threat level – 2): As of 19 March 2021, the government of Norway has taken steps to impose stricter coronavirus-related measures in response to an increase in local cases. Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced ahead of the upcoming Easter holiday that any Norwegian engaging in nonessential travel abroad will be subject to a mandatory quarantine period at a government-designated hotel upon return to Norway. In addition, the country’s existing entry restrictions have been extended until 7 April, which includes a ban on foreign nationals. Additional information on entry restrictions to Norway, including the list of exemptions, is available here.

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 3): On the night of 21 March 2021, a demonstration against a new policing bill escalated into violence in the southwestern city of Bristol, England. Hundreds of protesters threw rocks and fireworks at riot police officers who were guarding the New Bridewell police station, vandalized the windows of the installation and set ablaze two police vehicles. An additional 10 police vehicles were damaged. Authorities stated that 20 police officers were injured in the ensuing clashes, including two who suffered serious injuries. Police officers arrested seven people during the event. In the lead-up to the violence, an estimated 3,000 people had gathered peacefully in the city’s College Green area in the afternoon hours to protest the draft legislation that would grant additional powers to police officials in England and Wales to deal with demonstrations.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Guatemala (Security threat level – 4): On 21 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows: “The Embassy has received information that several planned, peaceful demonstrations and roadblocks will take place across Guatemala between Monday, March 22 and Thursday, March 25. At this time, the known participants are health care workers union and veterans of Guatemala’s armed forces.

“The participants have announced their intention to protest and/or block roads at the following locations:

Monday, March 22

The National Union of Healthcare Workers (El Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de Salud de Guatemala – SNTG);

  • Government buildings across Guatemala.

Tuesday, March 23-Thursday, March 25

Veterans of Guatemala’s armed forces;

  • Guatemalan Congress, Zone 1, Guatemala City
  • Constitutional Court, Zone 1, Guatemala City
  • Human Rights building, Zone 1, Guatemala City
  • U.S. Embassy, Guatemala City
  • La Aurora International Airport
  • Three other unnamed airports in Guatemala
  • At every municipal building in Guatemala
  • At every customs building in Guatemala
  • At every Guatemalan Government building in Guatemala
  • At every Public Ministry building in Guatemala
  • At Puerto Quetzal, Escuintla
  • At Puerto Santo Tomas de Castilla, Izabal
  • Various hydroelectric plants around Guatemala
  • At the entrance to the oil company Perenco, in Peten
  • Autopista Puerto Quetzal, Escuintla
  • Carretera Transversal del Norte, Alta Verapaz
  • Carretera a las Trampas, Sololá
  • Carretera Las Vegas, La Mesilla, Huehuetenango
  • Cuatro Caminos, Occidente
  • Cruce del Zarco, Mazatenango
  • Cruce a Ipala, Santa Rosa
  • Cruce a Río Hondo, Zacapa”

Iceland (Security threat level – 1): On 19 March 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice for Iceland, which reads in part as follows: “From 26 March, you will be allowed entry if you have a valid certificate of previous COVID-19 infection or of vaccination approved by the Icelandic Authorities. If you hold one of these certificates you will be exempt from pre testing, testing on arrival and or quarantine requirements. However, Border Control will evaluate whether the certificate is valid and correct.”

Mexico (Security threat level – 4): On 19 March 2021, the U.S. Consulate General in Nogales issued a Security Alert regarding an increase in crimes reported in Sonora state, which reads in part as follows: “Travelers should exercise increased caution when traveling in and around the municipalities of Santa Ana, Magdalena de Kino, and Imuris in Sonora state due to ongoing criminal violence. There have been recent reports of carjackings, killings, and armed attacks in the vicinity of Federal Highway 15 between Santa Ana and Imuris, many of which have taken place during the day.”

Pakistan (Security threat level – 5): On 22 March 2021, the U.S. Consulate General in Karachi issued a Security Alert regarding the upcoming Pakistan Day holiday, which reads in part as follows: “Location: Karachi, Sindh

“Event: Pakistan Day, Tuesday, March 23, 2021

“The U.S. Consulate General in Karachi, Pakistan recommends avoiding areas in and around the Jinnah Mausoleum on March 23, 2021 due to heightened security.

“U.S. Consulate personnel have been advised to avoid this area.

“Demonstrations, political rallies, sporting events, or large religious gatherings intended to be peaceful can possibly escalate into violence. U.S. citizens should avoid areas where large crowds of any kind gather. U.S. Embassy and Consulate personnel are routinely instructed to avoid areas of any demonstration. During demonstrations or periods of civil unrest, the Pakistani government has in the past disabled cellular telephone and internet service, making it difficult for individuals to contact each other or the U.S. Embassy or Consulates.

“The Department of State reminds all U.S. citizens to be aware of their surroundings, particularly around public markets, restaurants, government and military institutions, and other locations.”

Republic of Congo (Security threat level – 3): On 22 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville issued a Security Alert regarding possible post-election demonstrations, which reads in part as follows:

“Event: There is a possibility of demonstrations and civil disturbances today, March 22, in response to the passing of presidential candidate Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas.

“The U.S. Embassy and consular section are closed to the public today, March 22, and have advised non-essential staff to remain home as we work to learn more about this developing situation.

“The internet and SMS messaging have been blocked, and disruption of phone communications remains a possibility. Roads may be blocked and transportation, including commercial air travel, could be disrupted.

“Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.

“There is also a possibility of demonstrations and civil disturbances on the day that the Ministry of Interior announces the presidential election results. The Ministry is expected to announce the results several days after the March 21 presidential election.”

The full text of the alert is available here.

World: On 19 March 2021, the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) issued a Maritime Advisory, which reads in part as follows: “Multiple instances of significant GPS interference have been reported worldwide in the maritime domain. This interference is resulting in lost or inaccurate GPS signals affecting bridge navigation, GPS-based timing, and communications equipment. Satellite communications equipment may also be impacted. Over the last six months, areas from which multiple instances have been reported include the eastern and central Mediterranean Sea, the Persian Gulf, and in the vicinity of the Suez Canal. The U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Center (NAVCEN) webpage, go.usa.gov/xs6xa, contains a chronological list of recently reported GPS problems.

“Exercise caution when underway and prior to getting underway. The NAVCEN and NATO Shipping Center websites contain information regarding effective navigation practices for vessels experiencing GPS disruption. The information reaffirms safe navigation practices when experiencing GPS disruptions, provides useful details on reporting disruptions, and is intended to generate further discussion within the maritime community about other disruption mitigation practices and procedures. This guidance also recommends reporting such incidents in real time; noting critical information such as the location (latitude/longitude), date, time, and duration of the outage/disruption; and providing photographs or screen shots of equipment failures experienced to facilitate analysis. The NAVCEN information is available at: https://go.usa.gov/xQBaU.”

To read the full text of the advisory, please click here.

March 19, 2021

AMERICAS

Canada / Mexico / United States (Security threat levels – 2 / 4 / 2): On 18 March 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security declared that U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed to nonessential travel through 21 April in a sustained effort to stem the spread of COVID-19. Individuals involved in cross-border trade and transport are exempt, as are other “essential” personnel — including health care staff and emergency officials — and anyone who transits the border daily for work or to obtain basic necessities, such as food or medicine. The border restrictions, which do not apply to air travel, were initially enacted on 21 March 2020, and have since been renewed monthly. The Canadian government continues to maintain an entry ban on foreigners traveling for nonessential reasons, including those traveling aboard aircraft from the U.S. or Mexico.

Ecuador (Security threat level – 3): On 18 March 2021, the Ecuadorian government announced that travelers who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 will be permitted to enter the country as of 22 March and will no longer need to display proof of negative results from a COVID-19 PCR test taken before arrival. Travelers will, however, be required to present their completed vaccination document to authorities. Unimmunized travelers must continue to submit a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival.

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On 17 March 2021, members of the Fantom 509 group — composed of both active and former police officers — engaged in violent protests in the capital Port-au-Prince. The police officers, some wearing their uniforms and masks to conceal their identities, set fire to a foreign car dealership and demanded that the government retrieve the bodies of five police officers currently held by gang members in the Village of God informal settlement. The officers then stormed a police station and freed four of their colleagues held on charges of supporting an attempted coup in February. Following the event, authorities declared a month-long state of emergency in four gang-controlled areas in Port-au-Prince, including the Village of God, but will expand the order to cover any area as deemed necessary by security forces.

Mexico (Security threat level – 4): At approximately 1340 local time (1940 UTC) on 18 March 2021, an Airbus A320 aircraft — operating VivaAerobús flight VB4343 — aborted a scheduled departure from Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport (MMPR/PVR), located in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, after its front landing gear collapsed. The incident occurred as the Monterrey-bound aircraft, with 127 passengers and crew members on board, was preparing to take off. All 127 occupants safely evacuated the aircraft via emergency slides without any injuries. The incident forced officials to halt flights to and from the facility; outbound flights resumed in the evening hours and inbound flights are resuming on the morning of 19 March. An investigation is currently underway to determine the cause of the accident.

ASIA

Philippines (Security threat level – 4): On 19 March 2021, the Philippine National Task Force against COVID-19 revised the entry ban for foreign travelers that officials instituted to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the country. Under the revised measure, the entry ban will begin on 22 March, two days later than initially scheduled, and last until 21 April. Additionally, all Filipino citizens, including overseas Filipino workers, will be allowed entry into the country. Workers returning from overseas must take a COVID-19 PCR test six days after their arrival. International arrivals will be limited to a maximum of 1,500 people per day, with exceptions for those arriving for medical and emergency reasons.

EUROPE

France (Security threat level – 3): On 18 March 2021, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that a four-week-long coronavirus-related lockdown will be imposed in the Île-de-France region — which includes the capital Paris — and the Hauts-de-France region, as well as the departments of Alpes-Maritimes, Seine-Maritime and Eure, beginning on 19 March. Under the order, nonessential businesses must close, and nonessential inter-regional travel is banned for anyone living in an area under lockdown. Additionally, the existing nationwide nightly curfew from 1800-0600 local time (1700-0500 UTC) will start one hour later at 1900 local time.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Saudi Arabia (Security threat level – 3): On 19 March 2021, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Energy confirmed that a cross-border drone attack against an oil refinery in the city of Riyadh had occurred earlier in the day. According to the ministry, explosives-laden drones targeted the refinery, causing a fire at the installation. There were no reports of injuries. It was not immediately clear if the facility sustained significant damage. A spokesperson for the Yemen-based Houthi militant group claimed that it attacked oil refineries owned by the Saudi Aramco company in Riyadh with at least six armed drones.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Mali (Security threat level – 5): On 18 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Bamako issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows: “The U.S. Embassy in Mali has received information indicating that a terrorist attack in Bamako may be imminent, possibly targeting diplomatic facilities or relatively vulnerable targets, such as hotels.

“The Department of State’s travel advisory for Mali recommends that U.S. citizens do not travel to Mali due to COVID-19, crime, terrorism, and kidnapping.”

Pakistan (Security threat level – 5): On 19 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows: “Pakistan Day is a national public holiday celebrated on March 23. Events such as large military parades and rehearsals prior to March 23 may significantly affect traffic and cell phone coverage in Islamabad. The Pakistan Day Parade is scheduled for 10:00 AM on March 23 – preparations may begin as early as 5:00 AM. Several dress rehearsals will be held throughout the weekend. The U.S. Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that large gatherings and rallies can result in increased police and military presence, traffic delays, street closures, and cell phone disruptions.”

Slovakia (Security threat level – 2): On 18 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Bratislava issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows: “The U.S. Embassy is tracking the potential for demonstrations from March 19-21. While the demonstrations are expected to be directed at the Slovak government and are not anti-U.S. in nature, given the current government crisis and past protests, there is potential for impact on the Embassy community. The protests are in violation of the Slovak Government’s COVID-19 restrictions and do not have government approval. Recent similar unauthorized protests involved several thousand demonstrators, including members of the SNS and LSNS political parties and hooligan groups, and have led to violent clashes with police.

“The U.S. Embassy does not yet have an estimate on the number of demonstrators or the potential for violence, but clashes with police are possible. It is working with Slovak law enforcement and security partners to gather additional information.

“Announced primary gathering points:

  • Namestie Slobody: Friday, March 19, starting at 14:00
  • National Council: Saturday, March 20, starting at 14:00
  • Namestie Slobody: Sunday, March 21, starting at 14:00

“Demonstrators will likely be present in and around other areas of Bratislava, including, but not limited to, the neighborhoods near:

  • Old Town
  • Presidential Palace/Hodzovo Square
  • Parliament/Alexandra Dubceka Square
  • Namestie Slobody
  • Prime Minister’s Office
  • All Slovak government office buildings
  • U.S. Embassy
  • Bratislava Castle.”

March 18, 2021

AMERICAS

Costa Rica (Security threat level – 3) : During the early morning hours of 16 March 2021, gunmen robbed a U.S.-based airline crew as they transited on the Autopista General Caña, located near the Alfredo González Flores bridge. The crew was traveling from its hotel in the city of Alajuela to Juan Santamaría International Airport (MROC/SJO), located in the capital San José, when the attack occurred. The crew — which left the hotel at 0340 local time (0940 UTC) to man American Airlines flight 1204 bound for the U.S. city of Miami — was robbed after the driver pulled over upon hitting a plastic box placed on the road by the attackers. Thieves, brandishing guns and knives, then breached the van and demanded passengers surrender their electronics and cellular phones. The assailants then fled the scene, and the driver returned the passengers to their hotel. The incident delayed the scheduled flight’s takeoff by 7.5 hours.

Paraguay (Security threat level – 3): On 17 March 2021, security personnel used tear gas and water cannons to disperse anti-government demonstrations in central Asunción, the capital. Police officers fired tear gas and deployed water cannons in front of the National Congress building, when the protesters started to throw projectiles at the officers as well as set fires and vandalized nearby buildings. A group of protesters set fire to the headquarters of the ruling National Republican Association (ANR) party, damaging the building. Individuals also vandalized and looted businesses in the city center area during the protests. One police officer suffered minor injuries in the violence, and authorities arrested at least 30 people. The demonstrations occurred after Congress voted against the impeachment of President Mario Abdo Benítez and Vice President Hugo Velázquez over perceived mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peru / Lesser Antilles (Security threat levels – 3 / 1): On 17 March 2021, the Peruvian minister of education announced the suspension of interprovincial travel during the upcoming Easter holiday, 1-4 April, to slow the spread of COVID-19. All interprovincial transportation services and domestic flights will be suspended and only authorized public transportation and taxis will be allowed to operate. Individuals will be permitted to undertake interprovincial travel on 4 April to return home following the holiday. Grocery stores, supermarkets and pharmacies will be allowed to operate in-person services from 0400 to 1800 local time (0900 to 2300 UTC) during the lockdown.

On 17 March authorities in the Turks and Caicos Islands extended restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 until 2 April. A nightly curfew from 2300 to 0500 local time (0400-1600 UTC) is in effect across all islands. During the curfew period, individuals are required to remain at their place of residence, except for individuals engaged in essential travel to attain medical care, essential workers traveling to and from work, and individuals traveling to and from the airport for international flights. Additionally, all public and private gatherings are banned, while businesses are limited to 30% capacity.

United States (Security threat level – 2): On 17 March 2021, a severe weather system swept through southern United States, affecting more than 40 million residents in the region, including in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. At least nine tornadoes were reported during the severe weather, of which six touched down in Alabama, one in Louisiana and the other two in Mississippi. The tornadoes damaged or destroyed dozens of homes in the region; at least two people were injured at a residence in Alabama’s Clarke County when a tornado struck the area. There were no reports of other injuries or deaths. As of last report, weather-related power outages were affecting more than 10,000 homes and businesses in Alabama. Meteorologists forecast that the severe weather system will move toward eastern Georgia, South and North Carolina, and far-southeastern Virginia later on 18 March.

ASIA

Japan (Security threat level – 1): On 17 March 2021, Prime Minister Suga Yoshide announced that the government is not planning to extend the coronavirus-related state of emergency in Chiba, Kanagawa, Tokyo and Saitama prefectures. The emergency order, which is due to expire on 21 March, has been in effect since early January. Suga stated that overall COVID-19 infections have declined, despite increasing numbers in Tokyo. Under the order, bars and restaurants are required to close by 2000 local time (1100 UTC).

In related developments, authorities also announced that travelers from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Pakistan and Poland are now subject to stricter entry requirements. Under the new measures, all arriving passengers from the aforementioned locations must present proof of a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to departure. Upon entry, travelers will be tested again, sent to a designated quarantine facility and required to take another test on the third day. If results are negative, a traveler is allowed to leave and self-isolate at home for an additional 14 days.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Mali (Security threat level – 5): On 15 March 2021, approximately 100 suspected Islamist militants staged an ambush against an army patrol in the northern region of Gao. The assailants — traveling on motorcycles and pick-up trucks — stormed a military post near the town of Tassit, located about 60 km (35 mi) southeast of Ansongo, near Mali’s borders with Burkina Faso and Niger. According to an army spokesperson, at least 33 soldiers and 13 militants were killed in the resulting fighting between the two groups. U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) personnel helped to evacuate wounded soldiers, and the French military deployed in the region assisted Malian soldiers to secure the area following the attack. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, although militants affiliated with al-Qaeda and Islamic State are known to actively operate in the area.

Tanzania (Security threat level – 3): On the night of 17 March 2021, Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan announced that President John Magufuli died earlier in the day due to heart failure. Magufuli had not been seen in public since 27 February, prompting speculation that he was ill despite denials by government authorities. Under the constitution, Hassan will assume the role of president and serve the remainder of Magufuli’s term, which is slated to end in 2025. Hassan announced a 14-day period of mourning.

Analyst Comment: Spontaneous demonstrations remain possible, as Magufuli was a popular figure in Tanzania. Official state ceremonies are also likely. It remains unknown how Hassan will govern upon entering office, or whether she will continue Magufuli’s policies toward the COVID-19 pandemic. Magufuli was a skeptic of the coronavirus and opted to not impose lockdown measures. As recently as early-February, he declared that the country had beaten the disease. As a result, the full extent of the effects of the pandemic in Tanzania remain unknown.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Australia (Security threat level – 2): On 18 March 2021, the U.S. Consulate General in Perth issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows: “Groups will undertake a series of protest actions based in Supreme Court Gardens on St Georges Terrace in the Perth CBD over the period of March 22-24, 2021. Police are expecting 500-1,000 people to be involved in the demonstrations. Other demonstration activities may occur in the CBD for the remainder of that week.”

Dominican Republic (Security threat level – 3): On 17 March 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice for the Dominican Republic, which reads in part as follows: “Exceptional curfew measures have been put in place for Good Friday (2 April 2021). On this day, the curfew will be from 7pm to 5am. Transit is permitted for the first three hours of curfew, i.e. until 10pm.”

Oman (Security threat level – 2): On 18 March 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued an update to its travel advice for Oman, which reads in part as follows: “On 17 March the Omani authorities announced that from 12 noon local time on 19 March, direct flights from the United Kingdom to Oman would be prohibited. Travellers who have been in or transited through the United Kingdom in the previous 14 days cannot enter Oman, with the exception of Omani citizens.”

Peru (Security threat level – 3): On 17 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Lima issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Barranca, Santa Rosa, Aucallama, Chancay, Yangas, Tumbes, Cajamarca, Chimbote, Huaraz, La Oroya, Pampas, La Merced, Ica, Cusco, Tacna, Abancay, Ucayali

“Event: There are ongoing, widespread protests by cargo transport workers in multiple regions of Peru affecting travel on the Pan American Sur (South) and Pan American Norte (North) highways and throughout Peru. Although the protest is directed at heavy cargo vehicles, all traffic may be slowed or stopped. The Peruvian National Police have deployed in response. Avoid travel in the affected areas if possible as the situation is ongoing and evolving.”

March 17, 2021

AMERICAS

United States (Security threat level – 2): At approximately 1700 local time (2100 UTC) on 16 March 2021, a shooting occurred at a massage parlor in Acworth, Georgia, located on the northern outskirts of the city of Atlanta. Police officers responding to the event discovered five people with gunshot wounds, two of whom died at the scene. The other three wounded individuals were taken to a local hospital, where two more succumbed to their injuries. Nearly one hour later, police officers responded to a call regarding a robbery in progress at a massage parlor in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood — located approximately 30 mi (50 km) from the shooting site in Acworth — where three women were shot and killed. An additional shooting occurred at another spa situated across the street while the officers were at the scene; one woman was found dead from gunshot wounds at the latter facility. Authorities then launched a pursuit and arrested a 21-year-old male suspect in Crisp County, located about 150 miles south of Atlanta, more than three hours after the initial shooting in Acworth. Six of the eight people killed in the shootings were of Asian descent, which has raised concerns that the killings may have been racially motivated. Local and federal law enforcement officials are investigating the events.

ASIA

Philippines (Security threat level – 4): On 16 March 2021, the government announced that foreign nationals as well as citizens who are not Overseas Filipino Workers will be banned from entering the Philippines from 20 March until 19 April in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 variants. Limited exceptions exist for emergency situations and medical repatriations. Additionally, international arrivals will be capped at 1,500 people per day during that time period.

AUSTRALASIA

Papua New Guinea / Australia (Security threat levels – 4 / 2): On 17 March 2021, Australian authorities suspended flights between Papua New Guinea’s Jacksons International Airport (AYPY/POM), located in the capital Port Moresby, and Cairns Airport (YBCS/CNS), located in the state of Queensland, effective until 31 March. Additionally, authorities have banned workers from entering and leaving Australia, except those working in sectors deemed essential. Freight, medevac and other critical flights are exempt from the suspension. The flight suspension follows a COVID-19 surge in Papua New Guinea, where 2,351 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed. Health experts fear the real number is much higher due to undetected cases of community transmission. Australian authorities are deploying vaccine doses and personal protective equipment to Papua New Guinea to assist with controlling the outbreak.

EUROPE

Russia (Security threat level – 3): On 16 March 2021, the Russian government extended a ban on flights to and from the U.K. until 16 April due to a more infectious strain of coronavirus currently circulating in the U.K. The measure has been in place since 22 December 2020 and was due to expire on 16 March. The flight suspension may be extended further at the discretion of Russian health authorities.

Serbia (Security threat level – 3): On 16 March 2021, authorities announced a nationwide lockdown from 17 to 22 March due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. During the lockdown, all businesses are required to close, except for grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies and food delivery services. Meanwhile, cafes and restaurants located in hotels are restricted to serving registered guests only.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Lebanon (Security threat level – 4): On 16 March 2021, anti-government demonstrators angry about the continuing devaluation of the Lebanese currency closed roads across the capital Beirut, including near the American University of Beirut and in the Koraytem neighborhood, an upscale area located southwest of the Central District. Protesters also burned tires near the Banque Du Liban and vandalized windows of grocery stores. Over the last two weeks, the exchange rate has risen from 10,000 Lebanese pounds to the U.S. dollar, to 15,000 pounds to the dollar, prompting some grocery stores to close. In the northern city of Tripoli, demonstrators marched to politicians’ homes and damaged the security cameras installed at the residences. Other demonstrators blocked primary throughfares linking major regions in the country, including roads in the southern city of Naqoura — located along the coast near the Israeli border.

Analyst Comment: It is highly likely that protests will intensify in Lebanon over the coming months due to impending subsidy cuts. Caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab has announced that money for fuel subsidies will run out by the end of March and that the government will be able to fund other subsidies of food and medicine only until June 2021.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Niger (Security threat level – 5): On 16 March 2021, reports emerged regarding a series of attacks that occurred the previous day near the town of Banibangou in the Tillabéri region, located close to the Niger-Mali border. According to local security officials, gunmen riding motorcycles staged assaults on several villages and roadways as civilians returned to the villages of Chinagodrar and Darey Dey from a popular weekly market in Banibangou. The assailants killed at least 58 people and injured another. In addition, two vehicles were set ablaze and the gunmen stole several grain silos and seized two vehicles during the raids. While no group has thus far claimed responsibility for the attacks, militants affiliated with the Islamic State operate in the area. Following the attacks, a government spokesperson declared three days of national mourning for the victims.

Analyst Comment: Such attacks are common in the region and Banibangou is a lucrative target due to the weekly livestock market in the city, as well as its proximity to the border with Mali. Most recently, in January 2021, jihadists attacked two villages in the Tillabéri region, killing at least 100 civilians.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Bangladesh (Security threat level – 4): On 16 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka issued a Security Alert regarding the upcoming Independence Day holiday, which reads in part as follows: “Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) request all residents to refrain from non-essential movements throughout the city from Wednesday, March 17 through Saturday, March 27 in observance of Bangladesh’s 50 Years of Independence. Police officials made this request to minimize vehicular traffic so official VIP visitors will be able to move unimpeded with police escorts through the city. Police have also advised against holding political rallies or social gatherings in public spaces.

“During this 10-day period, DMP may implement additional security measures in select locations to include road closures. In addition, the Civil Aviation Authority will suspend air traffic during the flight arrivals and departures of state guests. In honor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s birthday on March 17 shopping malls and shops will be closed. Pharmacies, grocery stores, and restaurants will remain open.

“U.S. citizens are encouraged to exercise increased vigilance during this period. Please be aware of surroundings, review personal security plan, monitor local media for updates, and keep mobile phones accessible in case of emergency.”

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On the morning of 17 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows: “There are reports of planned protests and roadblocks throughout Port au Prince today, March 17. Many roadblocks have already been established, and the U.S. Embassy has restricted non-official travel of its direct-hire U.S. citizen staff to the immediate Embassy neighborhood. Please avoid unnecessary travel in this area at this time.”