Today, travelers in Santa Cruz should reconfirm routes and expect disruption during a planned 24-hour blockade by unionized transportation workers. Demonstrators intend to surround the city with roadblocks after failing to reach an agreement with the government over controversial transportation legislation. Transportation services in the city will be affected, and the erection of roadblocks is liable to significantly disrupt road travel, including journeys to and from Viru Viru International Airport (VVI).
Avianca Brasil, the fourth-largest airline in Brazil, filed for bankruptcy protection, citing high fuel costs and volatile currency markets. The airline warns passengers that services could be severely impacted as an attempt to repossess 14 of its leased aircraft is under way. Avianca has asked a Brazilian court to suspend the repossession to allow the airline to continue normal operations while it hopes to renegotiate its contracts with aircraft leasing companies. Passengers ticketed on Avianca Brasil should reconfirm flights and be prepared to make alternate arrangements as this situation continues to develop.
Travelers are reminded of the need for vigilance in tourist locations after a shoot-out between off-duty police and robbery suspects on Saturday, December 15 injured a tourist at Sao Vicente’s Millionaires Beach. One suspect was killed during the shooting while bystanders apprehended the second suspect, who was then arrested by police.
Travelers in Mexico City, as well as Morelos, Puebla and Tlaxcala, should plan journeys accounting for possible disruption due to increased activity at the Popocatepetl Volcano, located 56 miles southeast of Mexico City. According to the National Center for Prevention of Disasters (CENAPRED), the volcano emitted an ash plume reaching 8,200 feet above sea level and caused two minor earthquakes on Saturday, December 15 and Sunday, December 16. While no evacuation orders have been issued, a Yellow Alert (second-highest level on a three-tier scale) is in place, meaning that populations residing near the volcano need to remain alert and prepare for a potential evacuation.
On Thursday, December 20, travelers should minimize movement during a 24-hour nationwide strike organized by the National Blue and White Unity (UNAB) opposition movement. UNAB is calling on President Daniel Ortega and his wife and VicePresident Rosario Murillo to step down. The strike comes amid increased crackdowns against NGOs and media outlets in the country. It will be the fourth nationwide strike since widespread anti-government protests began in April and the first since the government formally banned opposition protests.
AFRICA & THE MIDDLE EAST
Today, travelers should avoid all unauthorized demonstrations in commemoration of the country’s third “Martyrs’ Day.” In 2015, the government recognized the day as a public holiday honoring members of security forces killed while defending the kingdom; however, segments of the Shia Muslim population have planned protests in several locations to commemorate the 1994 killing of two demonstrators by security forces. All such gatherings will be unauthorized and are likely to be forcibly dispersed by police. Travelers should anticipate a heightened security force presence along key routes, outside mosques, and in public squares.
Today, travelers in Matadi and Boma should minimize movement and, where possible, avoid city centers and airports during a visit by opposition Presidential Candidate Felix Tshisekedi. Disruption should be expected on roads leading to airports, as supporters will likely gather to greet Tshisekedi and fellow Cap pour le Changement (CACH) coalition leader Vital Kamerhe. Yesterday, two people were killed, and several injured in Tshikapa, following clashes between rival parties after Tshisekedi arrived in the city.
All travel to rural areas of North Kivu and Ituri provinces should be deferred due to an ongoing outbreak of the Ebola virus in several areas. On November 13, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 412 cases, 365 of which are confirmed, and more than 189 fatalities, mostly in Beni. The response to the outbreak has been hindered by an escalation of violence in affected areas, prompting some health organizations to suspend operations. On October 30, the UN Security Council issued a resolution calling for the immediate cession of attacks jeopardizing the medical response.
Travelers in Cote d’Ivoire should avoid all gatherings following the partial rerun of the October Legislative and Municipal Elections. Yesterday, reruns were held in six municipalities and two regions where the Supreme Court had canceled the results, including the municipalities of Bingerville, Port-Bouet, Grand Bassam, Rubino, Lakota and Booko, as well as the regions of Loh Djiboua and Guemon. Several security incidents were reported in Port-Bouet and Grand-Bassam. Authorities are due to release the results today.
On Thursday, December 20, travelers in Abuja should plan routes bypassing the National Assembly building due to possible daily protests. The Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) has called for a four-day strike over unpaid salaries and allowances; the protests began today. PASAN has said it intends to prevent anyone from entering the Parliament building during the demonstrations, which could trigger scuffles between protesters and security forces, as well as people with business in the complex.
Sporadic human cases of Middle East Respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV) continue to occur in Saudi Arabia. Transmission within hospitals sometimes occurs. The virus is present in camels and can be transmitted to people who have direct contact or consume raw camel products. Overall, the risk to travelers is low if precautions are taken. Travelers should avoid contact with sick people and practice good general hygiene. Travelers should also avoid contact with camels and should not eat or drink raw camel products.
Today, travelers in Mogadishu should reconfirm the feasibility of movement during an anticipated demonstration. The protest will take place in Wadajir district, located adjacent to the relatively secure Aden Adde International Airport (MGQ) compound. Security forces have reportedly closed all roads in the district, including the Maka al-Mukaram Road. Crowds are anticipated to gather in solidarity with Abdirahman Abdishakur, a former minister and government critic, who was arrested during a fatal raid at his home one year ago.
Both circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) and type 3 (cVDPV3) have been detected in the Banadir, Gedo, Hiran, Lower Juba, and Middle Shabelle regions. cVDPV strains can emerge in under-vaccinated populations. Travelers should be fully immunized against polio prior to travel. Polio is a contagious viral illness that causes paralysis and death. The infection is spread through ingestion of contaminated food or water, or directly from an infected person.
Due to the ongoing drought and low dam storage levels, restrictions on water usage in the city of Cape Town have been in place since February 1, 2018; however, beginning December 1, water consumption per person per day was increased from 70 to 105 liters. The relaxation also extended to commercial and industrial water use. Residents and businesses are expected to comply with the restriction and everyone is encouraged to take steps to minimize water usage.
Travelers in urban centers should avoid all protests due to the potential for unrest ahead of the Legislative Election scheduled for Thursday, December 20. Yesterday, a Constitutional Referendum and Local Elections passed off peacefully. The C14 opposition coalition is boycotting the polls and has called for protests. Meanwhile, authorities have banned all demonstrations, including in Lome.
Travelers in urban centers should anticipate disruption, reconfirm route status, and avoid gatherings by the “Red Vests” protest movement. Nationwide protests, inspired by the ongoing “Yellow Vests” demonstrations in France, will begin today in Kasserine to demand limits on price hikes, higher minimum wages, and adequate resources for counter-terrorism efforts. Gatherings are likely to take place near government offices and main squares; Avenue Habib Bourguiba in Tunis, where the Interior Ministry is located, is a potential flashpoint. Protests could be forcibly dispersed, posing incidental risks to bystanders.
ASIA & THE PACIFIC
Today, travelers in Dhaka should avoid a planned protest at 11:00 AM local time outside the National Press Club. The rally has been organized by the Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) and Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ) over controversial remarks by a Jatiya Oikya Front leader against journalists on Friday, December 14.
Today, passengers transiting Sydney Airport (SYD) should reconfirm the status of flights after TigerAir flight TT271, enroute to Melbourne, was forced to return to Sydney Airport after reports of a bomb on board the plane.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) in several locations has been fluctuating between “moderate” and “severe” levels. AQI helps in understanding the effects of air quality on health. As a response to AQI levels, local authorities have been triggering varying levels of alerts to help curb pollution levels and limit exposure. Polluted air can cause symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and irritation of the eyes and nose. Although young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with underlying heart or lung disease are more vulnerable, high levels of air pollution can affect anyone. Travelers should be aware of the pollution levels and avoid or reduce exposure and physical outdoor activity accordingly.
Today, travelers in Srinagar should expect heightened security and avoid a march organized by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) towards Badami Bagh Cantonment. The rally is being held to denounce the killing of seven civilians during a security operation in Pulwama district on Saturday, December 15. Section 144, prohibiting the assembly of more than four people in public places, has been imposed in several parts of Srinagar, including Khanyar and Rainawari. Mobile Internet services have also been suspended. The stretch of National Highway 44 connecting Pantha Chowk, Sonwar, and Dalgate Road has been closed to traffic.
Since the beginning of October, the Air Quality Index (AQI) in the National Capital Region (NCR) has been at “poor” to “very poor” levels and has dipped to “severe” levels intermittently. Other northern states, including Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, are also affected. Polluted air can cause symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and irritation of the eyes and nose. Young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with underlying heart or lung disease are particularly vulnerable. To lessen the risk of potential health problems, travelers should reduce exposure by decreasing time and physical activity outdoors.
Travelers in North Sulawesi province should monitor developments and anticipate potential flight disruption following two eruptions at the Mount Soputan Volcano yesterday. The National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB) has maintained the alert level for the volcano at Level 3 (second-highest level on a four-tier scale). In addition, a 2.5-mile exclusion zone is in place around the volcano. While flights are operating normally at Sam Ratulangi International Airport (MDC), shortnotice delays and cancellations are possible.
Travelers should continue to monitor developments after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was reinstated yesterday following a Supreme Court ruling. Wickremesinghe was fired by President Maithripala Sirisena on October 26 and replaced by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. This had triggered frequent demonstrations, mostly in Colombo. While Wickremesinghe’s reinstatement will placate his supporters, soured relations between the Prime Minister and President mean that tensions will periodically resurface, potentially leading to protests, albeit smaller in scale than before.
Today, travelers should avoid a rally by the ruling United National Party in the Galle Face Green area of Colombo. The event, which will begin at 1:30 PM local time, is being held to celebrate the reinstatement of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe after he was fired by President Maithripala Sirisena on October 26. While the gathering is expected to be peaceful, it is likely to be well attended with heightened security. Traffic disruption is possible on nearby routes, including the Galle Face Center Road.
Today, travelers in Tirana and other urban centers should avoid further protests over students’ rights and tuition fees. Rallies are expected nationwide. In Tirana, demonstrators are expected to march towards the Prime Minister’s office at 10:00 AM local time. Students continued to rally outside the Prime Minister’s office yesterday, in the twelfth consecutive day of action. Demonstrators have previously blocked the Education Ministry building, the Parliament building and nearby Durresit Road, and have threatened to stage a hunger strike if Prime Minister Edi Rama fails to address their demands.
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Sarajevo has been experiencing high levels of air pollution. Several other locations are also affected. Polluted air can cause symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and irritation of the eyes and nose. Young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with underlying heart or lung disease are particularly vulnerable. To lessen the risk of potential health problems, travelers should reduce exposure by decreasing time and physical activity outdoors.
Travelers in Zagreb and other urban centers should avoid further protests by a local “Yellow Vests” group. The group was formed by the non-Parliamentary party Slobodna Hrvatska, which was spurred by socio-economic demonstrations in France. Related protests occurred on Saturday, December 15 in Zagreb, Pula, Split, and Rijeka. The movement has said that demonstrations would continue to take place each Saturday until January 5.
On Thursday, December 20, travelers in Paris should avoid a planned police protest over poor working conditions as a precaution. Officers will march from the 8th District Police Station in Place Clemenceau to Avenue des Champs-Elysees at 9:30 PM local time. The gather is likely to exacerbate disruption and unrest from ongoing “Yellow Vests” protests. Further demonstrations are likely until the government meets police demands.
Tomorrow, travelers in France should plan journeys accounting for disruption during a general strike called by the CGT union confederation. As was the case during similar action on Friday, December 14, the walkout may be observed by employees of national rail operator SNCF and Paris’ public transportation operator RATP, disrupting their services. The strike has been organized in connection with a number of grievances, especially pertaining to wages and pensions. All related demonstrations should be avoided as a precaution.
Travelers in Tbilisi should anticipate further rallies by the United National Movement (UNM)-led opposition alliance. A UNM sit-in protest is ongoing outside Parliament on Rustaveli Avenue. The protest began yesterday after security forces blocked UNM supporters from gathering during the Presidential Inauguration in Telavi. The UNM, which is demanding early Parliamentary Elections and the resignation of government, will announce a protest action plan today. Travelers should stay up-to-date on planned protests and avoid them as a precaution.
Travelers should continue to avoid the vicinity of the SKAI Group headquarters on Ethnarchou Makariou Street, near Poseidonos Avenue in Piraeus, following an explosion earlier today. A crude bomb exploded at 2:30 AM local time, causing damage to the facility. No injuries were reported thanks to an anonymous phone call at 1:45 AM local time that allowed pre-emptive evacuations from the site. Emergency services vehicles were quickly dispatched. Disruption to traffic near the building is likely to continue today. Investigations into the incident are ongoing.
Travelers in Budapest should continue to expect and avoid further protests against a disputed labor law and judicial reform. Yesterday, approximately 10,000 protesters rallied for the fourth consecutive day at Heroes Square. Clashes were reported between police and protesters, who attempted to storm the headquarters of state-run television station MTVA. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowds. Similar disturbances and police response were reported during a protest outside the Parliament on Friday, December 14.
Today and December 31, travelers in Porto should anticipate disruption to metro services due to 24-hour work stoppages by staff over working hours. The strikes are set to affect all lines, including Line E linking the city center to Francisco Sa Carneiro Airport (OPO).
Bahrain: National Day (Second Day)
Bhutan: National Day
Kazakhstan: Independence Day (Day 2)
South Africa: Day of Reconciliation (Observed)
Israel: Asarah B’Tevet
Kazakhstan: Independence Day (Day 3)
Niger: Nigerien Republic Day
Qatar: National Day
Anguilla: Separation Day
Ukraine: St. Nicholas Day
Macau: Macau S.A.R. Establishment Day
Reunion: Abolition of Slavery
Macedonia: Turkish Language Day
Sri Lanka: Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day
Nigeria: Sambisa Memorial Day
Ukraine: Special Working Day
Zimbabwe: Unity Day
Germany, Norway, Sweden: Fourth Advent Sunday
Japan: Emperor’s Birthday
Argentina: Bridge Public Holiday
Micronesia: Yap Constitution Day
Japan: Emperor’s Birthday (Observed)
North Korea: Birth Date of Kim Jong Suk
Libya: Independence Day
Philippines: Additional Special Non-Working Day
Ukraine: Catholic Christmas Holiday
United States: Washington’s Birthday
Pakistan: Quaid-e-Azam Day
Taiwan: Constitution Day
Solomon Islands: National Day of Thanksgiving
Slovenia: Independence and Unity Day
South Africa: Day of Goodwill
North Korea: Constitution Day
South Sudan: Republic Day
eSwatini: Incwala Day
Kazakhstan: Special Working Day
Mongolia: Independence Day
Ukraine: Special Working Day
Spain: Feast of the Holy Family
Philippines: Rizal Day
New Year’s Eve
Argentina: Bridge Public Holiday
Azerbaijan: World Azerbaijanis Solidarity Day
Switzerland: Restoration Day
Japan: December 31 Bank Holiday
Kazakhstan: New Year (Extra Holiday)
Russia: Extra Holiday in lieu of