Travelers in the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, New England, and Northeast regions of the US, as well as Toronto, should anticipate disruption associated with the passage of a polar vortex, an extreme cold front from the Arctic. Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin are likely to be most affected by the weather system, which is moving southeast and will bring strong winds and sub-zero wind chills through today. Extreme temperatures are liable to disrupt flights at airports serving affected regions, as well as road travel on major highways.
Travelers in the Arica and Parinacota regions should anticipate disruption and minimize non-essential travel in areas affected by flooding. The Nueva Esperanza neighborhood of Arica City has been badly affected, though other areas of the city have also been impacted. Authorities have issued a Red Alert (the highest in a threetier scale) and pre-emptively evacuated 3,000 people after the Acha River overflowed which blocked some major roads and made some bridges impassable. Travelers in the area should monitor the situation and follow all local directives.
On Sunday, February 3, travelers should anticipate a heightened security presence and avoid any rallies associated with the country’s Presidential Elections, minimize non-essential movement, and exercise caution immediately following the release of results. Violent crime has increased significantly in the lead-up to the elections. The government has responded by deploying 23,000 additional security personnel across the country, including 1,000 in San Salvador, to secure polling locations and establish checkpoints.
Travelers in Guanajuato state are reminded of the incidental risks posed by crime and cartel activity after residents in the town of Villagran blocked a major highway with burning vehicles on January 29. The violence erupted when security forces entered the town, in an area reportedly controlled by the Santa Rosa cartel, to recover a container carrying 7,000 liters of stolen fuel.
All inbound travel to Venezuela should be deferred through February 4 due to the ongoing political crisis and associated unrest. Travelers in country should minimize non-essential movement. Opposition-led protests have continued in Caracas and other urban centers following demonstrations across the country on January 30. Juan Guaido, the National Assembly-recognized interim President, has called for peaceful demonstrations at 6:00 PM local time tomorrow. A rival pro-government protest is also planned on the same day along Avenida Bolivar in Caracas.
AFRICA & THE MIDDLE EAST
Today, travelers in Kinshasa should anticipate disruption near the Cathedrale Notre Dame du Congo during a service marking the second anniversary of the death of Etienne Tshisekedi, former Prime Minister and father of the President, Felix Tshisekedi. The President is expected to attend the event, which is due to begin at 11:00 AM local time. Travelers should reconfirm the status of routes if travel through the area.
An ongoing outbreak of the Ebola virus is present in Katwa. Vaccination of health workers has begun in neighboring South Sudan. Key response activities continue to be challenged but have progressively resumed despite ongoing security issues. Ebola is spread by contact with the blood or other bodily fluids of infected or dead people. Healthcare workers, household members, and people participating in traditional funeral practices are at high risk. Non-essential travel to affected areas should be deferred. Travelers should prevent infection by paying strict attention to hygiene and avoiding contact with blood and bodily fluids. Travelers are advised not to participate in traditional funerals or go to health facilities where Ebola patients are being treated.
Today, travelers in Johannesburg should plan routes bypassing the Gauteng Divisional High Court during an ongoing security operation. Six prisoners reportedly escaped from holding cells within the building but are believed to still be inside the court precinct. The building is now on lockdown. Travelers can expect a heightened security presence in the area.
Today, travelers in Durban should plan alternative routes to the N2 Highway and allow additional travel time due to an ongoing protest. Heavy traffic has been reported along the northbound section of the route, which leads to King Shaka International Airport (DUR), as protesters have blocked roads with burning tires.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has said its members will join a march in Pretoria today “to stand with the Zimbabwean people.” COSATU says it is planning “mass action” to draw attention to the economic crisis and security crackdown in Zimbabwe, though few practical details about the demonstration have been revealed. The event will build on small protests by expatriates outside the Zimbabwean Embassy recently, calling on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to resign. Travelers in Pretoria should plan journeys bypassing the event to minimize inconvenience.
ASIA & THE PACIFIC
Smoke from bushfires has lowered the air quality in several parts of Tasmania. Authorities put Emergency Warnings in place, which have since been lifted. Smoke Alerts are in place to warn residents of the impending health risks. Polluted air can cause symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and irritation of the eyes and nose. To reduce the risk of potential health problems, travelers should minimize exposure by limiting time and physical activity outdoors.
Travelers in Townsville should plan journeys accounting for severe disruption due to ongoing heavy rain and flooding. Bruce Highway, which links Townsville with the rest of Queensland, is cut off; public transportation services are not running; and road closures are in place. Townsville has been declared a Disaster Zone. Heavy rainfall and associated flooding is expected to continue over the coming days, exacerbated by the release of water from the Ross Diver Dam. Townsville Airport (TSV) is operating normally, though it is at risk of flash flooding.
Today, passengers transiting Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (NRT) should anticipate residual disruption after one of the facility’s two runways was subjected to intermittent closures; a Japan Airlines aircraft skid off the runway in icy conditions and became stuck on the taxiway. No damage to the aircraft or serious injury to passengers was reported. The airport’s other runway remained operational throughout the day. As of 2:50 PM local time, both runways were opened to traffic.
Today, travelers in Pakistan should avoid protests over the acquittal of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, in a controversial blasphemy case. The Supreme Court upheld the verdict on appeal on January 29. Protests against the ruling are expected in urban centers following Friday prayers, including in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore.
Travelers in urban centers should anticipate and avoid further climate marches to minimize inconvenience. Yesterday, around 33,000 demonstrators marched in Brussels, Charleroi, Liege, and Leuven. Protesters are calling on the EU and the government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Local road disruption is likely around march routes.
On Sunday, February 3, travelers in Tbilisi should avoid a protest at 3:00 PM local time in front of the Ministry of Education and Science building. The gathering is being organized by students over education reforms, including changes to graduation exams for 11th and 12th grade students.
Tomorrow, travelers in Mitrovica should avoid an anti-government protest by the “One of Five Million” movement over the murder of politician Oliver Ivanovic. Demonstrators will gather at 6:00 PM local time on Saint Lazar Square and march through the city center towards the site where Ivanovic was killed. The march is also being organized in solidarity with ongoing anti-government demonstrations in Serbia, which began in December over an attack on an opposition politician.
Today, travelers in Mitrovica should avoid a protest called by academics over a proposed “ethnic land swap” deal with neighboring Serbia, which they argue will affect co-operation between the two countries. Demonstrators will gather at 12:00 PM local time outside the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) building.
Travelers should anticipate disruption and follow all official directives amid widespread reports of bomb threats against several public institutions. All such threats thus far have been hoaxes, but have resulted in evacuations of affected premises, causing disruption. Areas that have been affected thus far include the Siberian, Far Eastern and Volga federal districts, as well as St Petersburg and Moscow.
On Sunday, February 3, travelers in urban centers should avoid planned protests over waste management issues. In Moscow, a large rally is expected to begin at 2:00 PM local time in Pushkin Square. Additionally, smaller demonstrations are planned near the city’s Central District Municipality building. Demonstrations are also likely in other urban centers, including St Petersburg, where participants will gather at Udelnyy Park at 12:00 PM local time. Rally organizers in Moscow have applied for the requisite permit, though it has not yet been granted. Regardless of the authorization, protests in Moscow are likely to proceed.
Today, travelers in Madrid and Barcelona should anticipate disruption due to strikes and protests over regulations for appbased ride-share services. Drivers of VTCs (private hire vehicles) in Barcelona will strike today. A gathering at the city’s Placa Sant Jaume on January 29 passed off peacefully, protesting drivers in Madrid blocked roads on January 30. All protests should be avoided as a precaution.
Today and tomorrow, travelers in Catalonia should avoid protests over the transfer of imprisoned pro-Catalan independence politicians to Madrid for trial. Today, independence supporters are due to gather in solidarity with the prisoners along the route of the transfer convoy. In Barcelona, demonstrators will assemble at 7:00 PM local time at Jardinets de Gracia. Tomorrow, protesters will gather outside the government and Parliament buildings in Plaza de Sant Jaume. The detained politicians’ trial is due to begin on February 5, and further related demonstrations are likely.
Tomorrow, travelers in Switzerland should expect disruption around a series of climate marches and plan journeys bypassing these to avoid delays. The rally in Berne will be at Waisenhausplatz at 1:00 PM local time; those in Geneva and Zurich will start at 2:00 PM local time at Place des 22-Cantons and Helvetiaplatz, respectively. Around 50,000 attendees in total are expected at some 15 rallies nationwide.
Today, travelers should allow additional travel time due to disruption caused by heavy snow. Moderate-to-heavy snow will affect London, as well as southern, central and eastern parts of the country, through 11:00 AM local time. The Met Office has issued a Yellow Warning (lowest in a three-tier system) for snow and ice in parts of Wales, London, Eastern England, and northern and eastern Scotland. An Amber Warning (second lowest) has been issued in parts of the counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, and Hampshire. Travelers should reconfirm the status of routes before setting out.