American Business Advisory
Tropical Storm Dorian
Tropical Storm Dorian will strike Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands today. As of this morning, Dorian’s center was less than 100 miles from St. Croix, in the US Virgin Islands, moving northwest at 10 to 15 mph. Outer rain-bands are already affecting the Virgin Islands and will soon sweep into Puerto Rico, while heavier rain near the center of Dorian is now heading toward the Virgin Islands. Some additional strengthening is possible before Dorian interacts with the land, and there’s a slight chance Dorian could become a hurricane before striking Puerto Rico.
Flash flooding and mudslides from heavy rain will be a significant threat, particularly in mountainous terrain where trees may have been downed from 2017’s Hurricane Maria. Rainfall totals of 4 to 6 inches (locally up to 10 inches) are currently forecast in southern and eastern Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, with lighter amounts expected in northwest Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. While the heaviest rain is expected today, some trailing rain-bands may linger over parts of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Hispaniola into tomorrow. Tropical storm-force winds will affect Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and are possible in the easternmost Dominican Republic, particularly at higher elevations. Some power outages and tree damage could occur. Dangerous surf and swells will occur, particularly along south and east-facing shores.
Dorian is expected to intensify once it moves past Puerto Rico. Dorian’s center is currently expected to track to the east of the Turks and Caicos and southeast Bahamas, but that is subject to change. Dorian is then expected to bend toward the westnorthwest by August 30; exactly when and how sharp that leftward bend occurs will be critical in determining where Dorian strikes the southeast US. The latest National Hurricane Center forecast has Dorian threatening the northwest Bahamas early this weekend, then parts of Florida, Georgia, perhaps the Carolinas later in the weekend.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra, as well as the British and US Virgin Island, meaning tropical storm conditions (39-73 mph winds) are expected there within the next 36 hours. A hurricane watch is also in effect for those same areas; hurricane conditions (74 mph or greater winds) are possible there within the next 48 hours. A tropical storm watch is in effect for parts of the eastern Dominican Republic; tropical storm conditions are possible there within the next 48 hours.
On August 21, the Trump Administration extended a ban on the use of US passports for travel to North Korea through August 31, 2020. The ban was originally imposed in September 2017, following the death of a US student who was detailed by North Korea. The ban was renewed in 2018.
Travelers should monitor developments related to ongoing forest fires and their effects. A record number of wildfires have been reported in 2019, primarily in rural areas of the northwestern states of Acre, Amazonas, Rondonia, and Roraima. Amazonas has declared a State of Emergency, while Acre has issued an Environmental Alert. There have been no Evacuation Orders, but travelers should monitor developments as efforts to contain the fires continue.
Fires in the Amazon Rain Forest have affected air quality in several parts of the country. The northwestern states of Acre, Amazonas, Rondonia, and Roraima are the worst-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 and lung disease are particularly vulnerable. To lessen the risk
of potential health problems, travelers are advised to reduce exposure by decreasing time and physical activity outdoors.
Today and tomorrow, travelers in urban centers should plan journeys accounting for disruption during a 48-hour nationwide strike and caravan march by the Fecode teacher’s union. The rally will take place from Bogota to Popayan. The group is denouncing the lack of health coverage for teachers and their families, among other issues.
Travelers are reminded that travel to Veracruz state should be for essential purposes only after 23 people were killed and 13 injured in an attack on a nightclub in Coatzacoalcos yesterday. At around 10:30 PM local time, the assailants used incendiary devices to set fire to the Caballo Blanco club in the city’s Benito Juarez Norte area. Some reports also said the gang had opened fire on the premises beforehand. The incident highlights the significant risks posed by organised crime in Veracruz.
AFRICA & THE MIDDLE EAST
In the coming days, travelers in Botswana should monitor developments associated with a threatened strike by government employees and the BOFEPUSO union federation if their demands for higher wages are not met. The federation, comprised of six public sector unions, began the final stage of negotiations with the government on August 26. Travelers should expect disruption to public services in the event of a strike. While accompanying protests are likely to pass off peacefully, all such gatherings should be avoided as a precaution.
Travelers in Northwest and Southwest regions should exercise caution following fresh Anglophone separatist calls for ‘ghost town’ and ‘lockdown’ protests. Representatives of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia (FRA) movement’s self-proclaimed ‘interim government’ have urged demonstrations beginning today for three weeks, while other groups have called for protests on September 2-6 and 9-13. Travelers on essential business in these regions should liaise with local contacts for information on related demonstrations and avoid all such events due to a credible risk of violence.
An outbreak of Ebola continues in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, with spread into South Kivu. Key response activities continue to be challenged by security issues. Ebola is spread by contact with the blood or other bodily fluids (including vomit and diarrhea) of infected or dead people. Healthcare workers, household members, and people participating in traditional funeral practices (touching the body) are at high risk. Travelers are advised to continue to defer non-essential travel to affected areas and to prevent infection by paying strict attention to hygiene and avoiding contact with blood and body fluids.
Over the coming days, travelers in the breakaway separatist region of Abkhazia should exercise caution and avoid all gatherings ahead of the September 8 local presidential election run-off vote. Although the initial campaigning period and elections in August passed off without incident, the region has a history of political violence. As such, there is potential for election-related gatherings before and after the announcement of the run-off result.
Through August 31, travelers in Kenya should expect heightened security and related disruption around a national census. Unruly protests on August 15 occurred in Nairobi’s Westlands constituency, as well as in Kiambu county, over alleged favoritism towards civil servants and corruption in the hiring process for census-takers. Security forces dispersed the rallies with tear gas. Although authorities have taken measures to reduce perceived favoritism, and most census exercises will be conducted during the first two days, residual disruption and related demonstrations remain possible throughout this period.
Between September 6-10, travelers in Antananarivo should anticipate disruption and allow extra time for journeys to the airport during an official visit by Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope will arrive in Antananarivo Airport (TNR) from Mozambique at 4:30 PM local time on September 6. He will visit Mauritius on September 9 and fly back to Madagascar on the same day, returning to Italy on September 10. The visit is expected to cause disruption, with more than 500,000 people and traffic restrictions expected in and around areas of the pontiff’s itinerary.
Over the coming days, travelers in Sierra Leone should avoid political gatherings linked to the August 24 by-election in Western Area Rural district, south of Freetown. The poll results were subsequently cancelled by the National Electoral Commission (NEC), following an attack on a polling station and the destruction of related materials. The electoral cycle proceeded amid outbreaks of political violence and heightened tensions between the opposition All People’s Congress (APC) and the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP). The developments highlight the risk of local election-related unrest, which can pose indirect risks to bystanders.
Travelers due to fly with state-owned carrier SA Express should reconfirm their flights after the airline suspended several services today, citing operational reasons. While SA Express has said that affected passengers have been contacted and alternative arrangements made, it is unclear when its services will normalize.
Travelers in Pretoria should anticipate disruption in the central business district (CBD) and plan routes avoiding flashpoint locations during ongoing protests by taxi operators. Bloed, Boom, Brown, Dr Savage, and Prinsloo streets have been blocked by the demonstrators, who have gathered following the shooting of one of their colleagues on the previous day. There are also reports of looting. There is a significant police presence in the area, with the potential for confrontations between officers and protesters in the coming hours.
Travelers on essential travel in Omdurman should avoid an ongoing demonstration at the city’s courthouse, as a precaution due to the risk of unrest. Protesters are gathering ahead of the trial of the accused killers of a schoolteacher, amid a heightened police presence. The roads leading to the courthouse have been closed by authorities.
ASIA & THE PACIFIC
Today, travelers in Hong Kong should plan journeys avoiding a protest organized by the Hong Kong Women’s Coalition on Equal Opportunities (WCOEO) against alleged sexual assaults by police officers during a recent demonstration. The event is scheduled to take place at Chater Garden from 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM local time. Police have granted the gathering permission, though the expected turnout is unclear. Meanwhile, a planned protest at Cathay Pacific City remains unconfirmed as the organizer is currently appealing against a police objection to the event.
Travelers in urban centers of Bangladesh and Pakistan should expect heightened security during the Islamic holy month of Muharram, which runs from September 1-30. Mosques and Shia Muslim processions should be avoided due to the increased risk of militant attacks and sectarian violence, particularly around Ashura (the tenth day of Muharram) on September 9-10. Throughout the holy month, an increased security presence should be expected around Shia mosques, imambargahs (Shia congregation halls), religious processions, and densely populated locations such as marketplaces.
Today, travelers in Brisbane should anticipate traffic disruption in the central business district (CBD) due to a planned environmental protest. Participants will gather at 8:00 AM local time at the intersection of Queen and Edward streets, and march towards Parliament House. Bus services in the area may also be affected. The demonstration is likely to be well attended.
On September 1-2, travelers in urban centers, including Dhaka, should avoid events celebrating the anniversary of the establishment of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) as a precaution. A large gathering is planned at the party founder’s grave in Chandrima Udyan in Dhaka at 10:00 AM local time on September 1. The BNP is also planning nationwide rallies calling for the release of its jailed leader Khaleda Zia, including at the party’s headquarters in Naya Paltan in Dhaka, on the same day. Traffic disruption is likely on nearby routes, including VIP and Shahid Syed Nazrul Islam Sharani roads.
Travelers in Tamil Nadu and Kerala states should expect a heightened security force presence following reports on August 22 that six alleged Islamist militants had entered Tamil Nadu. In addition to deploying more than 7,000 police officers, authorities have established patrols conducting vehicle and baggage checks, especially around transportation hubs and religious sites in Chennai and Coimbatore as well as at the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. The measures do not indicate an attack is imminent, and such alerts are inherently difficult to independently verify.
Floods, due to heavy rainfall, have affected several states. Health risks associated with flooding include injury, diarrheal disease, skin infections, insect-borne diseases, and seasonal influenza. There can be potential food and water shortages. Travelers are advised to remain alert and follow the advice of the local authorities.
Travelers in northern areas of Kyushu island should defer non-essential travel to locations affected by heavy rain, flooding, and possible landslides until at least August 30. Those planning to undertake essential travel should ascertain the feasibility of journeys with local contacts and account for disruption. Today, authorities issued a “special warning” (highest on a fivetier scale) for flooding and landslides in Saga, Fukuoka, and Nagasaki prefectures. An evacuation advisory (level 4 of 5) has also been issued for these prefectures.
In the coming hours, travelers in Amman should plan routes bypassing Rainbow Street, following a gas explosion at a restaurant earlier today. Traffic is being diverted from 1st Circle and joining incoming traffic from the 2nd Circle while the road is cleared, leading to gridlocks in the vicinity. One person was reportedly injured in the blast, which caused the restaurant to collapse, spreading debris around the area. Travelers in the vicinity should follow official directives.
Today through August 31, travelers transiting Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) should anticipate disruption during planned airspace closures and reconfirm flights accordingly. The airspace will be closed between 9:00 AM and 10:30 AM local time during this period in preparation for the country’s 62nd National Day fly-past. At least 500 flights are due to be affected as a consequence. National carrier Malaysian Airlines has advised passengers to arrive at least four hours before departure to avoid delays.
In the coming weeks, travelers in urban centers should monitor developments regarding anti-Japan protests that have been occurring in Seoul and Busan City. This comes amid ongoing trade tensions between the two countries and calls for a boycott of Japanese products and travel to Japan. Thousands of people participated in related protests on August 14 outside the Japanese Embassy and on August 15, at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul. Travelers should anticipate local disruption during any further gatherings.
Between September 1-10, travelers in Colombo should expect heightened security measures and related disruption during the Bohra Global Conference organized by the Dawoodi Muslim Bohra community. Around 25,000 visitors and 3,000 volunteers are expected to attend the event, which will be held in Bambalapitiya neighborhood, at the Bohra headquarters including Husaini Masjid and Qutbi Hall. Increased security measures, including traffic diversions, checkpoints and patrols, can be expected around the event. Travelers should also anticipate a heightened demand for transport and accommodations.
Dengue fever cases have been increasing. The disease is spread by mosquitoes and is present in both rural and urban areas. Dengue can cause a range of symptoms and has no particular treatment. Some people, especially those who have been infected before, get a more severe form that can lead to fatal complications. Although a vaccine is available in several locations, it is only recommended for people who have been infected with dengue in the past and are living or traveling in areas with high levels of dengue transmission. Travelers are advised to prevent infection by avoiding mosquito bites.
Passengers of Ryanair should continue to anticipate disruption despite the cancellation of one of several planned strikes over conditions and announced layoffs. The Irish High Court issued an injunction yesterday to stop the airline’s Irish pilots walking out today and tomorrow. Similar industrial action by UK pilots appears set to go ahead today and tomorrow, as well as September 2-4, though Ryanair says it has taken steps to minimize disruption. Crew members in Portugal are on strike through August 25. Spain-based employees plan to walk out on September 1, 2, 6, 8, 13, 15, 20, 22, 27, and 28.
Travelers in urban centers should continue to avoid weekly Saturday protests by the Yellow Vests movement, due to the risk of local unrest. The next gatherings are scheduled for August 31. While the major event is due to take place from a roundabout leading to Ferney-Voltaire in the eastern part of the country before heading towards Geneva, Switzerland, additional gatherings in main urban centers, including Paris, are likely. The latest protests on August 24 attracted only a few hundred participants and passed off peacefully.
On August 31, travelers in Geneva should avoid a joint French-Swiss protest by the Yellow Vests movement, due to the risk of local unrest. Participants will gather in front of the UN headquarters at Place des Nations in Geneva at 4:00 PM local time.
Through today, travelers in Kiev should expect heightened security and plan journeys bypassing events commemorating Independence Day.
After a breakdown in negotiations over a pay dispute, the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) announced a three-day strike in September. The strike will likely cause severe disruption for British Airways, as BALPA represents about 90% of the airline’s pilots. Pilots affiliated with BALPA will strike on September 9, 10, and 27. British Airways has issued waivers for those passengers ticketed to travel during the period of industrial action. Travelers are advised to reconfirm their bookings and avoid booking new British Airways flights for travel September 9, 10, and 27.