Business Travel Advisory October 18th
Travelers in southeastern states should anticipate heavy rain and associated disruption linked to the passage of potential Tropical Storm Sixteen in the coming days. The weather system is forecast to strengthen, as it moves northeast from its current location over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico. Sixteen is forecast to bring tropical-storm-force winds and heavy rain in parts of Florida and Louisiana states as well as the border of Mississippi and Alabama states.
Normal movement can resume in the vicinity of Main Street Market in downtown Houston, Texas, following a fire yesterday at a building between Walker Street and Main Street. While the fire has been extinguished, the Houston Office of Emergency Management has advised the public to avoid the area until firefighters have officially cleared it. Residual disruption to public transport can be expected.
Beginning October 29, travelers at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) using rideshare services, including Uber or Lyft, will be picked up at a designated parking lot near Terminal 1. Shuttle service from the main terminal will be provided. Travelers are advised that shuttles will run every 3-5 minutes. Alternately, passengers can walk from the main terminal to the designated ride-share pick up area, which would take approximately 18 minutes.
Travelers due to transit Viracopos/Campinas International Airport (VCP) in the coming hours should continue to expect heightened security in the area following a robbery. Criminals broke through an access gate on the airport’s grounds at about 9:50 AM local time yesterday and stole valuable goods from the cargo terminal. Simultaneously, criminals set fire to trucks near the airport, blocking Santos Dumont Highway (SP-75). The airport has resumed normal activity, and the motorway has reopened.
On October 20, travelers in Guatemala City should plan journeys bypassing a rally to commemorate Revolution Day, which marks the 1944 ouster of then-President Jorge Ubico. Participants will march at 8:30 local time from El Trebol in Zone 11 to Plaza de la Constitucion.
Through today, travelers should continue to defer all travel to Haiti, while those in-country should stand fast in a secure location, due to expected nationwide antigovernment protests. Opposition groups have been staging near-daily demonstrations in recent weeks calling for the removal of President Jovenel Moise. Moise has refused to resign and instead is calling for a dialogue. Related protests are liable to result in violence and significant travel disruption. Essential services may be limited during periods of heightened unrest.
Travelers in Culiacan should continue to minimize movement amid ongoing gunfight between security forces and drug cartel members in various locations across the city. Clashes first erupted near the Plaza Fórum commercial center in central Culiacan, following reports that Ovidio Guzman, son of jailed Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, had been arrested. According to local media, Ovidio has been released in an attempt to calm the situation. Multiple flights at Culiacan International Airport (CUL) have been canceled due to the ongoing unrest.
AFRICA & THE MIDDLE EAST
On October 9, Turkey launched an operation in northeastern Syria against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). On October 13, the Turkish military and aligned Syrian opposition forces took control of Tel Abyad and villages in Hasakah governorate in Syria. In retaliation, the SDF launched rocket and mortar attacks into Turkey, affecting border areas of Mardin, Sanliurfa, and Sirnak provinces. Travelers are advised against all travel to Syria and areas of Turkey within five miles of the border in Mardin and Sanliurfa. Travelers in those areas should monitor developments and ensure their evacuation plans are rapidly implementable.
Today, travelers in Conakry should exercise caution and avoid the areas of Dixinn and Matam, where the trial of opposition leaders is set to resume. Anti-government protests, organized by the Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) opposition group, are likely to continue and may spread to other urban centers. Security forces are liable to use tear gas and live ammunition to disperse protests, which are against a proposed third term for President Alpha Conde. At least nine people have been killed in these protests.
Until October 20, travelers in Kenya, especially central, northeast, south-east and coastal regions, should anticipate heavy rain, flooding, and resultant travel disruption. The Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) has issued a warning of heavy rain and strong winds during this period. According to local reports, four people were killed and five injured by flash flooding in Kitui county. Road travel has been paralyzed in several counties, while some main thoroughfares in Mombasa have been inundated. Travelers should reconfirm the status of routes before setting out.
Travelers should expect disruption in Mombasa during Mashujaa (National Heroes’ Day) on October 20. President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to attend events in the city’s Mama Ngina waterfront park. Security is likely to be especially tight following terrorism warnings and continuing protests in the city over government proposals on cargo transport. Public events are attractive targets for the Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabab, who has a demonstrated capability to launch attacks in Kenya. Travelers should minimize movement on the day as a precaution and follow all official directives.
Today, travelers transiting Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY) should reconfirm the status of routes and allow additional time for journeys. Protesters have blocked the main access routes to the airport in the Ghobeiry area and at the Selim Salam Tunnel. The roadblocks are related to ongoing anti-austerity protests in the country. Travelers should defer non-essential travel to the country for at least the next 48 hours due to ongoing protests over government plans to introduce new austerity measures in the 2020 budget. Rallies are planned for today at 2:00 PM local time at Martyrs’ Square in Beirut and at 4:00 PM local time at al Nejmeh Square in Tripoli. Meanwhile, a demonstration is ongoing at Riad al-Solh Square in Beirut. Additional demonstrations are likely, particularly after Friday midday prayers. Roadblocks along several major roads are reportedly in place, while schools, universities and banks are been closed today.
Travelers in Monrovia should avoid an ongoing protest by University of Liberia students outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building. A previous related rally, held on October 15 over non-payment of teachers’ salaries, was forcibly dispersed by the police. Similar unrest may occur during the ongoing gathering.
In the coming weeks, travelers in Bamako and other main cities should avoid further protests against foreign military presence due to the risk of unrest. On October 12, thousands of people gathered in Bamako, Sevare, and Kayes to protest against the influence of the UN MINUSMA peacekeeping mission and French military in the country. Looting during these demonstrations prompted the Governor of Mopti to impose a curfew from 6:00 PM to 6:00 AM local time until October 20 in the region.
On October 19-20, travelers in Abuja and northwestern states, particularly Kaduna, Kano and Katsina, should expect heightened security and avoid all gatherings linked to the annual Shia Muslim festival of Arbaeen. There is an increased risk of unrest during Arbaeen celebrations, which have previously been organized by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), an outlawed Shia group. Violence involving IMN members and security forces has occurred in recent years. The biggest Arbaeen procession, between Kano City and Zaria, is due to begin on October 19.
On October 16, local media reported that four suspects had been charged with the murder of a Chinese businessman by armed robbers four days earlier at his residence in Vaitele. Three of the victim’s staff were also injured by the assailants. While overall levels of crime in Samoa are low, the incident highlights the need for travelers to be aware of signs of surveillance in the vicinity of offices or homes; any suspicious behavior should be reported to authorities.
ASIA & THE PACIFIC
In the coming weeks, travelers in countries with large Shia Muslim communities should anticipate heightened security and related travel disruption ahead of and during the Arbaeen religious festival on October 19-20. Arbaeen marks the end of the 40-day mourning period following Ashura, which commemorates the death of Imam Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. While the nature of commemoration differs between countries, non-worshiping members are advised to avoid all related events and Shia religious sites to minimize inconvenience and, in some contexts, due to the heightened risk of militancy.
Today through October 20, travelers in Hong Kong should avoid protests and plan journeys accounting for disruption in affected areas. In addition to announced protest locations, protesters may also gather at flashpoint areas, including mass transit railway (MTR) stations, at short notice. Authorities can be expected to preemptively close MTR stations or restrict rail services around large gatherings, which can quickly spread to multiple locations and escalate into violence, including vandalism, arson and the use of petrol bombs, especially during weekends.
Over the coming weeks, travelers in Hong Kong should expect and avoid further protests linked to police conduct, dissatisfaction with the local and central governments, and the October 4 ban on facial masks. Such events can quickly spread to multiple locations and escalate into violence, including vandalism, arson and the use of petrol bombs, especially during the weekends and around flashpoint dates. Where feasible, travelers should plan journeys avoiding flashpoint areas on Hong Kong island and elsewhere and be prepared to minimize non-essential movement at short notice.
Measles clusters have been reported in South Brisbane and the Rockingham area in Perth. Measles is caused by a highly contagious virus that spreads from person-to-person via infected droplets. Outbreaks occur frequently in under-vaccinated populations. Common symptoms include fever, cough, and a characteristic rash. Measles can result in serious complications, particularly when very young children, the elderly or pregnant women are infected. All travelers should ensure that they are fully immunized against measles.
Travelers in Haryana and Maharashtra states should plan journeys accounting for disruption associated with the Legislative Assembly elections. Polling will take place on October 21, while counting and the release of results is expected on October 24. Prior to these dates, travel disruption is likely around major campaign rallies. An increased security force presence can be expected around such gatherings, as well as at polling booths and political party offices. Travelers should avoid such events and venues due to the potential for local unrest.
On October 20, travelers in Jakarta should expect heightened security and associated disruption surrounding the Presidential inauguration of Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo for his second term in office. The official ceremony will begin at 2:00 PM local time at the Parliament complex. Around 27,000 security personnel will be deployed in Jakarta for the ceremony, including around sensitive locations such as the Parliament complex and Merdeka Palace. Security will be especially tight amid recent terror plots and unruly protests over controversial penal code amendments.
Travelers should anticipate and avoid further protests against a Turkish-led military incursion into northeastern Syria. Related, well-attended gatherings have occurred in recent days in Baneh, Marivan, Sanandaj, and Piranshahr. On October 12, a demonstration was held outside the Turkish Embassy in Tehran. Such protests are most likely to occur in Kordestan, Kermanshah, Ilam and West Azerbaijan provinces, which have significant ethnic-Kurdish population. There is a potential for unrest during such gatherings, which may also cause local travel disruption, particularly if they are held along main thoroughfares.
Influential Shia Muslim cleric and politician Muqtada al-Sadr has called for protests tomorrow in solidarity with anticorruption gatherings that occurred earlier in the month. Sadr has called participants of the annual Arbaeen pilgrimage and commemorative events in Karbala to march in solidarity. The march route will be the same as the direction of the pilgrimage, and movement restrictions are expected along it. Impromptu protests by Sadr’s followers are also possible elsewhere, including Baghdad and Basra. Travelers should confirm the feasibility of movement before setting out.
Between October 22-23, travelers in Tokyo should expect heightened security and associated travel disruption linked to the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito. Related events on October 22 will take place at the Imperial Palace, including the enthronement ceremony, which will commence at 1:00 PM local time. A banquet will also be held at the Hotel New Otani Tokyo on October 23. Access restrictions and road closures will be implemented across the city, especially around the main event venues. Travelers should allow plenty of time to complete journeys and follow all official directives during this period.
Travelers in or traveling to Japan should continue to anticipate residual disruption in areas impacted by former typhoon Hagibis in the coming days. While the storm has exited the country, disruption and flooding continue to be reported in several prefectures. Rail services have largely resumed across the country, including in Tokyo. Tokyo’s Narita (NRT) and Haneda (HND) international airports have also resumed operations, though flight delays and cancellations are still possible in the coming days given flight backlogs. Travelers should continue to maintain flexible itineraries and reconfirm logistical arrangements.
According to the US Geological Survey, a magnitude-4.7 earthquake struck at 3:32 PM local time today, seven miles southwest of Jhelum. The quake occurred at a depth of 27 miles.
The tap water across several areas in Hanoi has been contaminated. Oil waste dumped into the Da River is reported to have caused the contamination. Travelers are advised to select safe water to prevent illness.
In the coming days, travelers in major urban centers across Europe should plan journeys bypassing further environmental protests to minimize inconvenience. The Extinction Rebellion (XR) environmentalist group has called for a “shut down” of major cities for at least two weeks until governments respond to the climate and ecological emergency. Related gatherings in major cities are likely to be well-attended, disrupting traffic in key locations, often around government buildings and on major routes.
Travelers in the United Kingdom and European Union should continue to monitor developments and follow all government guidelines related to the process of the UK leaving the EU, known as “Brexit.” Brexit is currently due to occur on October 31. Presently, the UK must agree to a deal with the EU by October 19 or request an extension. Local gatherings relating to Brexit remain possible, with most such events likely to be focused on Parliament Square in London.
Travelers in urban centers should anticipate disruption around protests on October 19 by members of the Kurdish diaspora. Demonstrations have taken place across Europe since October 10, condemning Turkey’s current military operations in Syria. In Germany, several people have been injured during demonstrations over the issue, and scuffles were reported during a protest in Rotterdam on October 16. While protests elsewhere have been peaceful, travelers should nonetheless plan journeys bypassing such gatherings as a precaution and to minimize travel delays.
Today, travelers in urban centers should avoid protests by the Yellow Vests (‘Gilets Jaunes’, GJ) movement due to the risk of local unrest. In Paris, protesters will gather in front of the Esplanade Henri de France station at 9:00 AM local time and march towards Gare de La Defense station at 11:00 AM local time via Boulevards des Marechaux. In Clermont-Ferrand, demonstrators plan to gather at 1:00 PM local time at Place de Jaude. Other protest locations have yet to be announced. A related gathering on October 12 in Toulouse was dispersed by security forces with tear gas.
Today, travelers due to travel via train should reconfirm schedules due to an ongoing short-notice strike by employees of national rail operator SNCF. The work stoppage has already disrupted services in Centre-Val de Loire, Grand-Est, Hautsde-France, Ile-de-France, New Aquitaine, Normandy, Occitanie, Pays de la Loire, and Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur regions. Negotiations are ongoing to resolve the issue.
Today, travelers in major cities should plan journeys bypassing protests planned by members of the Kurdish diaspora to condemn Turkey’s current military campaign in northern Syria. Some of the demonstrations are expected to be attended by thousands and could cause local traffic disruption; a number of the protests are also planned outside train stations. Several people have been injured during recent rallies over the issue, and travelers should avoid all future gatherings due to a credible risk of unrest.
Travelers due to fly with flag carrier Lufthansa via Frankfurt (FRA) or Munich (MUC) airports on October 20 should reconfirm flight schedules. The UFO cabin crew union plans to strike from 6:00 AM until 11:00 AM local time over salary-related grievances. The union has said that it may call for further work stoppages. Lufthansa has said that it intends to maintain a normal flight schedule; however, disruption remains possible. Negotiations are ongoing to avert the industrial action.
Tomorrow, travelers in Rome should anticipate local disruption during an opposition protest organized by the right-wing Northern League (LN) party. LN leader Matteo Salvini has called on supporters to gather at Piazza San Giovanni from 3:00 PM until 6:00 PM local time. The party expects a turnout of around 40,000 people for the event, which is liable to disrupt road travel in its vicinity. Buses serving the area will be diverted and Line A metro trains will not stop at San Giovanni station beginning at 4:00 PM local time.
Tomorrow, travelers in Samara should plan routes bypassing a planned opposition protest in Kozlova Square from 12:00 PM local time. The opposition Communist Party is demanding the resignation of a regional minister and the reduction of refuse disposal tariffs. It is unclear whether the gathering will receive official authorization, though the organizers have pledged to proceed regardless. Security forces are liable to conduct mass arrests of participants in unauthorized rallies, while bystanders may also be detained.
Travelers in Catalonia autonomous community should continue to avoid protests related to the recent sentencing of proindependence leaders to prison. Today, rallies are expected to be particularly disruptive as the day marks the end of a three-day students’ strike and the convergence of the ‘Marches for Freedom’ in Barcelona. A 24-hour general strike will also take place on the day, which will partially disrupt public transport, including bus services between Barcelona El Prat Airport (BCN) and the city center. Taxi drivers may also suspend services.
Travelers in London over the coming days should continue to anticipate local disruption caused by fresh environmental protests. Demonstrations organized by the Extinction Rebellion (XR) activist movement have persisted despite a police ban on October 14, which is being challenged in the courts. XR has called for rallies at Trafalgar Square, while demonstrators early today were blocking the Oxford Circus junction. A peaceful march from Whitehall Gardens to nearby government departments in the Westminster area is also scheduled today.