Business Travel Advisory
A Winter Storm, nicknamed Isaiah, will produce an expansive mess of snow, sleet, and freezing rain from parts of the Plains and upper Midwest to northern New England beginning today, making travel hazardous into the weekend. Accumulations of snow and ice are expected from parts of the Plains and Midwest to northern New England. Freezing rain and sleet are also expected in that general area. Ice accumulations in some areas may become damaging, leading to power outages and downed trees. Winter storm warnings and watches have been issued from northern Oklahoma to Lower Michigan, as well as in parts of northern New England. Winter weather advisories have also been posted from the Texas Panhandle into portions of the Midwest, where lighter amounts of snow and/or ice are anticipated.
Tomorrow, travelers in Chicago should plan routes bypassing the annual anti-abortion “March for Life” rally due to the risk of local disturbances. Participants are expected to gather at 1:00 PM local time at Daley Plaza. Various groups are organizing a counter protest near Dearborn and Washington streets at 12:00 PM local time. A heightened police presence around the gatherings is expected. Both events are likely to be well attended and will end at 3:00 PM local time. Travelers should expect road closures in the vicinity of the gatherings and allow additional time to complete journeys in order to minimize delays.
On January 16, travelers in Sao Paulo should plan routes avoiding a demonstration over recent increases in public transport fares. At 5:00 PM local time, participants will gather at the Municipal Theater. Yesterday, related protests in the city were disruptive, with scuffles between participants and police. Officers used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.
Today, travelers in Guatemala should plan journeys avoiding roadblocks expected to be erected by protesters in Villa Nueva, approximately 10 miles southwest of Guatemala City. National Civil Police (PNC) officers plan to block the CA9 Highway, a key access road for Guatemala City, to demand higher salaries.
Travelers in Cancun are reminded of the risk posed by violent crime following a shooting yesterday in the city’s Hotel Zone. Yesterday, at around 9:00 PM local time, a man was injured outside a restaurant on Avenida Bonampak, reportedly after resisting a robbery attempt. The incident highlights the incidental risks posed to travelers by crime-related violence in Cancun, even around the relatively safer Hotel Zone. Travelers should observe standard precautions and remain alert.
Travelers due to travel to or from Oaxaca International Airport (OAX) via Federal Highway 175 should anticipate residual disruption after protesters blocked a section of the road earlier in the day as part of a 72-hour strike. While the road has been cleared, travelers should anticipate similar road blocks and disruptions throughout Oaxaca City today, the last day of the planned strike. Members of the CNTE teachers’ union are calling on the federal and state governments to meet their demands.
Normal movement around Plaza San Martin in Lima can resume following disruptive and violent protests in the area late yesterday. Demonstrations against the possible liquidation of the Universitario de Deportes Football Club resulted in scuffles between participants and police. Officers reportedly used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowd. Related rallies were held in several provinces around the country.
Travelers should exercise caution and avoid all gatherings linked to the political situation, which remains volatile. On January 5, Juan Guaido, the National Assembly-recognized interim President, was prevented from entering Parliament in Caracas, where he was expecting to be re-elected. Instead, President Nicolas Maduro’s surprise candidate, Luis Parra, was appointed the new head of the National Assembly. Guaido denounced this development and held an impromptu “Parliamentary session” at the offices of the pro-opposition El Nacional newspaper in Caracas. The session was attended by opposition lawmakers who re-elected him as head of the National Assembly.
AFRICA & THE MIDDLE EAST
On Sunday, January 12, travelers in urban centers should avoid all gatherings associated with the Berber New Year as a precaution. Activist groups are calling for increased self-determination for the Berber minority ethnic group. At 11:00 AM local time, participants in Tizi Ouzou will march from the University of Tizi Ouzou to l’Ancienne Mairie. Protesters in Bejaia will march from Bejaia University to Said Mekbel Square, and activists in Bouira will march from Raffour to M’Chedallah. All marches are likely to be well attended and are expected pass off peacefully.
Travelers in Angola should plan journeys accounting for disruption caused by ongoing heavy rainfall and flash floods. At least 12 provinces, including Luanda province, have been affected by the adverse weather, which has caused notable infrastructure damage and killed at least 41 people. Electricity and water supplies have been cut off in some affected areas. Travelers should reconfirm status of routes before setting out and maintain flexible itineraries.
In the coming days, travelers planning to travel via the RNIE2 Motorway, which connects Cotonou to Parakou should reconfirm routes and exercise caution after recent unrest in Save. Yesterday, youths erected roadblocks on the motorway to protest the arrest of an individual and clashed with security forces.
Travelers in Goma should plan journeys in the coming hours avoiding Avenue de la Paix near the University of Goma and the Katindo Military Camp. This comes after protesters blocked a section of the route there with stones and bricks. Travelers should liaise with local contacts for the latest developments and follow all official directives.
Today, travelers in Lubumbashi should plan journeys bypassing a planned sit-in in front of the Provincial Assembly Building from 9:00 AM local time organized by LUCHA (“Fight for change”) civil society group. Protesters will call for an independent audit of the Congolese mining company Gecamines and denounce alleged corruption.
Travelers in Oromia state should exercise caution in the coming days. This follows violence at Bule Hora University in Hagere Maryam during a protest today calling on the government to cease operations against the Oromia Liberation Front (OLF), a formerly banned rebel group in western Oromia. At least 12 students were injured when security forces opened fire to disperse the crowd. The protest was a continuation of a march held on January 9 at regional universities. Local sources have reported that the internet has been cut off since January 6 in western Oromia. Further gatherings are likely.
Travelers should continue to defer all travel to Baghdad until at least January 12, while essential travel to southern provinces may be possible with precautions. Tensions remain heightened amid fresh calls for anti-government demonstrations today, and following Iranian-led missile attacks early on January 8 targeting locations hosting US-led coalition forces. While US President Donald Trump confirmed that no US Nationals were injured in the attacks, he announced additional economic sanctions against Iran. Although the immediate threat of further escalation between the US and Iran has reduced due to the limited US response to the missiles, low-level attacks by pro-Iran groups in Iraq are possible in the coming weeks and will continue to fuel broader US-Iran tensions. Such incidents are most likely in central and northern federal Iraq, where there is a greater concentration of both countries’ military and diplomatic interests.
Today, travelers in urban centers should anticipate heightened security and associated disruption around protests against the 2016 gas deal between Jordan and Israel. The demonstrations, which have been triggered by the first import of gas from Israel on January 2, will begin at 12:30 PM local time after Friday prayers. Related protests on January 4 were well attended and passed off peacefully.
Travelers should closely monitor developments amid increased US-Iran regional tensions. On January 8, Iran launched more than a dozen missiles into Iraq against US-led coalition forces. Several of these targeted the Ain al-Assad Airbase, while others targeted the Kurdistan Region. There remains a risk of the Lebanese-based Shia Muslim movement Hezbollah targeting US military personnel and interests following recent remarks made by Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah on January 5. Although a renewed conflict with Israel is unlikely in the near term amid the ongoing political unrest in Lebanon, sustained regional tensions will continue to place pressure on such a scenario in the long term.
Travelers should anticipate possible disruption to road travel and distribution of essential supplies during a planned nationwide strike by local haulage companies beginning Monday, January 13. The Transporters Association of Malawi has called the industrial action to demand more business for local operators and higher fees to cover increased pay for drivers. A truckers’ strike in October 2019, which led to the introduction of a minimum wage for drivers, halted fuel deliveries and caused disruption on roads connecting Lilongwe to other urban centers. Security forces were deployed to force drivers to complete fuel deliveries.
Today, travelers in Bamako should avoid a planned demonstration against foreign military presence in Mali. Participants will gather at 2:00 PM local time on Boulevard de l’Independance to denounce the presence of both the UN Stabilization Mission and French military presence in the country. Previous demonstrations have descended into local unrest, including the use of tear gas to disperse groups, as well as property destruction. The demonstration is likely to be well attended.
On January 7, several civilians were injured when unidentified gunmen opened fire on a civilian bus on the Sevare-Bankass route. On January 6, at least one person was killed in an attack on Pongonon village, near Koro, while five soldiers and at least one civilian were killed in an ambush on a military convoy en route to Alatona from Diabaly in the central Segou region. These incidents underline the persistent risk of attacks by criminal and jihadist groups in Mali, especially in central and northern regions.
All travel to Borno should be deferred due to high levels of Islamist militant activity. At least 20 soldiers were killed, and several others injured during a militant attack against the garrison town of Monguno on January 7. During the offensive, assailants destroyed at least 750 homes and detonated a car bomb. The attack was subsequently claimed by the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) group. Niger Travelers are reminded of the risks posed by militant activity in Tillaberi region. Yesterday, 25 soldiers were killed when heavily armed militants attacked a military post in Chinagodrar near the border with Mali. Earlier, on December 25, 14 soldiers were killed when their convoy was targeted in the Abala area. Travelers should employ stringent precautions for all overland journeys outside Niamey and Dosso, while all travel to remote border areas should be avoided.
Territories An outbreak of measles was reported in Gaza Strip mostly affecting unvaccinated individuals. Measles is caused by a highly contagious virus that spreads from person-to-person via infected droplets. Outbreaks occur frequently in undervaccinated populations. Common symptoms include fever, cough, and a characteristic rash. The illness can result in serious complications, particularly when very young children, the elderly or pregnant women are infected. All travelers should ensure they are fully immunized against measles.
Travelers in urban centers should avoid further protests over a recent hike in electricity tariffs, due to the risk of local disruption and unrest. Today, nationwide gatherings will include a march from 3:00 PM local time in Dakar. Protesters in the city will gather at Place de la Nation before marching to the RTS Roundabout. The protest has now been authorized. Further gatherings are planned today by the Nio Lank (“We refuse”) group for Thies, Mbour, and Diourbel. At least 25 people were arrested following clashes between police officers and protesters on December 20.
In the coming days, travelers in Johannesburg should anticipate demonstrations against the privatization of the stateowned electricity provider, Eskom. Members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) will hold a rally at the Eskom Headquarters in the Sandton area on January 15. While the gathering is expected to pass off peacefully, it is likely to be well attended and cause local disruption.
On Tuesday, January 14, travelers in urban centers should anticipate heightened security and avoid planned demonstrations due to the risk of local disruption and unrest. Demonstrations are being held to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the 2011 uprising which led to the ouster of former President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. The anniversary has often been marked by protests over various socio-economic issues coupled with public discontent. In Tunis, participants will gather at 10:30 AM local time at Place Mohamed Ali. Key thoroughfares in Tunis, such as Avenue Habib Bourguiba, may be closed to traffic during the demonstrations.
Circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) has been detected in North-Western and Western provinces. The cVDPV strains can emerge in under-vaccinated populations. Polio is a contagious viral illness that can cause paralysis and death. It is spread through contaminated food or water, or directly from an infected person. Travelers are advised to prevent infection by ensuring polio vaccination is up to date (including a booster if available) and selecting safe food and water.
ASIA & THE PACIFIC
A cluster of cases of pneumonia is under investigation in Wuhan, Hubei Province. Latest reports indicate that 59 people have been affected, and seven remain in a serious condition, down from 11. The infections may have occurred at a local seafood market. The symptoms are consistent with several respiratory diseases, and pneumonia is common in the winter season. A new coronavirus strain was genetically sequenced from a patient and has also been found in some of the other patients. It is not yet clear if this new strain of coronavirus is the cause of illness in all of the patients who have been isolated in Wuhan; investigations are ongoing. Early investigations excluded seasonal influenza, common causes of respiratory illness, some strains of bird flu, MERS, adenovirus, and SARS.
Today, travelers in Sydney and Melbourne should plan journeys bypassing protests by environmental activists in order to minimize travel delays. Demonstrators are calling on lawmakers to provide increased funding and support for firefighters and communities affected by the ongoing bushfires in the country. Protesters in Sydney plan to gather at Sydney Town Hall at 5:30 PM local time, while activists in Melbourne intend to disrupt sections of the city’s Central Business District from 6:00 PM local time. The protests are expected to be well attended, with activists planning to engage in blockades of nearby roads and businesses.
Travelers should continue to closely monitor ongoing bushfires through February and plan journeys accordingly. As of January 7, the bushfires have killed at least 25 people and burned more than 6.3 million hectares of forest and parks. The government has deployed more than 3,000 officers from the Australian Defense Force, the Navy, and the Air Force to assist with evacuations, firefighting efforts, and supplies. Travelers should follow all official directives and be prepared to defer or change travel plans at short notice, especially for journeys to non-urban areas.
A State of Disaster in Victoria, originally issued on January 3, was extended for an additional 48 hours, beginning yesterday. The move comes amid worsening weather conditions, with high temperatures and strong winds expected to exacerbate the fire threat in the coming days. Evacuation Alerts were issued shortly afterwards for an area in northeastern Victoria, west of Mount Buffalo. Travelers should continue to follow all official directives and plan journeys accounting for Evacuation and Emergency Warnings.
Until at least January 12, travelers in coastal areas of the Northern Territory and Western Australia state should plan journeys accounting for disruption due to the passage of a tropical low. According to the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), the weather system is currently located near Jabiru and is moving in a west-southwest direction. On its current trajectory, the storm is expected to pass close to Darwin overnight on January 10-11 before moving into the waters off northeastern Kimberley. It may then intensify into a tropical cyclone by tomorrow.
Today through January 12, as well as January 17-19, travelers in Dhaka should expect disruption and heightened security during Bishwa Ijtema, an annual gathering of Muslims. The first part of the event will be held at Bishwa Ijtema Maidan Masjid on the banks of the Turag River in Tongi from January 10-12. The second phase will take place from January 17-19. More than three million people are expected to attend the event, which is the second-largest congregation of Muslims worldwide. Heightened security measures will be in force, including the deployment of security force personnel and the implementation of road closures and access restrictions.
Travelers in Dhaka are reminded to exercise vigilance following several small explosions in the city. The most recent incident occurred on January 5, when three crude bombs exploded near the Arts Building at the Dhaka University campus. One of the explosions occurred during a demonstration by Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD), the student wing of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). No casualties were reported. There have been several similar crude bombings in recent weeks, which come amid an ongoing dispute between student political groups and ahead of the city’s local elections on January 30.
Travelers in Kolkata should expect heightened security and disruption during a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 11-12. A group opposed to a contentious new citizenship law and a national register of citizens (NRC) has announced plans to picket the city’s Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (CCU) around Modi’s scheduled arrival at 5:00 PM local time on January 11 and other points on his itinerary. Short-notice traffic restrictions are likely during the passage of Modi’s convoy and around event venues. Travelers should allow plenty of time to complete journeys during this period and follow all official directives.
Travelers in urban centers should continue to plan routes avoiding ongoing demonstrations associated with the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). With no clear resolution of the issue in sight, near-daily protests are planned in various cities, including New Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai. Spontaneous gatherings are also likely. Travelers should liaise with local contacts for details of such events, reconfirm the status of routes before setting out, and allow additional time for journeys.
Over the coming days, travelers in Indonesia should expect protests linked to the Indonesia-China maritime border dispute in the South China Sea. Diplomatic tensions have heightened following the December 2019 incursion of state-escorted Chinese fishing boats into waters around the Natuna islands claimed by both countries. The Indonesian government has lodged two diplomatic protests – on December 30 and January 1– and has since increased the civilian and military presence in the area. This dispute might encourage nationalist or religious groups within Indonesia to hold protests on the issue, though the likelihood of such activity targeting Chinese interests and personnel is very low.
Today through Saturday, January 11, passengers transiting Amami Airport (ASJ) should continue to reconfirm flights after normal flight operations at the airport resumed yesterday, following the reopening of the facility’s runway. The airport’s runway, currently operational, was closed on January 8 after an incident with a commuter passenger aircraft. The incident is being investigated by the country’s Transportation Safety Board. Travelers should reconfirm flight schedules as residual delays and cancellations remain possible.
A baby from Tuaran, Sabah, has been confirmed infected with circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 (cVDPV1). This is the first case of polio in Malaysia in over 25 years. Polio is a contagious viral illness that can cause paralysis and death. It is spread through contaminated food or water, or directly from an infected person. Travelers are advised to prevent infection by ensuring polio vaccination is up to date (including a booster if available) and selecting safe food and water.
A slight rise in flu activity has been reported nationwide. School children have been affected; as a response a few schools have been closed in Penang. Influenza is a viral illness, causing a sudden fever, cough, headache, weakness, and muscular pains. Most cases are mild although some can be severe or even fatal. Pregnant women, adults over 65, and young children are at higher risk of severe illness. Travelers are advised to prevent infection through vaccination and attention to hygiene.
Travelers in urban centers should expect further demonstrations over the killing of a senior Iranian commander in a US airstrike in Baghdad on January 2-3 and avoid all such gatherings as a precaution. The incident triggered protests on January 3 and 5 in Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore. Related gatherings will be tightly policed and will have the potential to degenerate into unrest. Travelers should monitor US-Iran diplomatic tensions for any further escalations, which would trigger intensified protest activity, and remain alert to the risk of potential attacks on US personnel and interests.
Both wild polio and circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) have been detected in several locations. 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. The cVDPV strains can emerge in under-vaccinated populations. Travelers are advised to prevent infection by ensuring polio vaccination is up to date (including a booster if available) and selecting safe food and water.
On Sunday, January 12, travelers in Bangkok should plan routes bypassing two rival political campaigns to minimize delays. The first is a running event organized by the opposition Future Forward Party (FFP). Supporters of FFP will gather at Wachirabenchathat Park in the Chatuchak district at 4:30 AM local time for a run, which is scheduled to end at 9:00 AM local time. Supporters of the country’s Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, will gather at Lumphini Park in Pathum Wan district for a walking event beginning at 6:30 AM local time. While both gatherings are likely to be peaceful, local travel disruption, including road closures, is likely.
High levels of air pollution are being reported in Bangkok. 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 (high-risk groups) are particularly vulnerable. To lessen the risk of potential health problems, travelers are advised to reduce exposure by decreasing time and physical activity outdoors.
Yesterday, three police officers and a civilian were killed during clashes between protesters and police over a land dispute in Dong Tam, a commune located 25 miles southwest of Hanoi. Power supply and internet access have been cut off, and there is a heavy police presence in the area. The situation is likely to remain local to Dong Tam; however, if it escalates, road disruption in nearby areas, as well as related protests in Hanoi, may occur. Travelers traveling around Hanoi should avoid Dong Tam and reconfirm the status of routes until the situation normalizes.
Travelers in the UK and European Union (EU) should continue to monitor developments and follow all government guidelines related to the process of the UK leaving the EU, known as “Brexit.” The EU has agreed on a flexible extension date of January 31, 2020. Local gatherings relating to Brexit may take place in the UK, with most such events likely to be focused on Parliament Square in London.
On January 13, travelers in urban centers should anticipate disruption around protests by bus, taxi, and truck drivers against a new toll system. In Sofia, bus and taxi drivers will demonstrate at 10:00 AM local time at Alexander Nevski Square, while truck drivers plan to block Sofia Ring Road.
Tomorrow, travelers in urban centers should avoid fresh nationwide protests against controversial pension reforms. In Paris, participants will gather at 1:30 PM local time at Place de la Nation before marching towards Place de la Republique. Several labor unions have organized the demonstrations as part of ongoing industrial action. Well-attended protests over the issue have previously led to looting and scuffles between attendees and police, and any repetition would pose incidental risks to bystanders.
Tomorrow, travelers in Paris should anticipate disruption and avoid a fresh protest by the “Yellow Vests” (Gilets Jaunes) movement. Participants will gather at the intersection of Avenue de France and Rue Neuve Tolbiac at 10:00 AM local time before marching towards Place de la Nation. Separate rallies are due to take place on the same day against pension reform. Travelers should avoid all gatherings due to the risk of unrest.
On Sunday, January 12, travelers in Berlin should anticipate local disruption around a demonstration to commemorate the 101st anniversary of the murder of two communist leaders. Left-wing activists will gather at 10:00 AM local time at the Frankfurter Tor metro station before marching towards the Friedrichsfelde socialist memorial. The annual event is likely to be well attended and pass off peacefully.
On January 11, travelers in Athens should avoid a planned protest in the Exarcheia neighborhood due to the risk of unrest. Demonstrators will gather from 12:30 PM local time outside the local police station to protest against perceived police inaction against criminal groups operating in the area. Since demonstrations in the Exarcheia neighborhood tend to be unruly, there will be a heightened security presence around the gathering.
Beginning today through January 25, travelers should plan journeys accounting for transport disruption during strikes by several Italian unions. The most significant impact will be on January 14 during a 24-hour nationwide strike by air traffic controllers and shorter walkouts by other aviation workers. Airports most likely to be affected are Rome Fiumicino (FCO) and Rome Ciampino (CIA), Bologna Guglielmo Marconi (BLQ), Reggio Calabria (REG), Ancona (AOI), Perugia (PEG), and Pescara Abruzzo (PSR). Traffic disruption is likely in Bologna today and Rome on January 13 during respective taxi and public transport strikes.
Tomorrow, travelers in Warsaw should anticipate local disruption around a protest at 4:00 PM local time in front of the District Court building. Demonstrators are denouncing controversial judicial reform, which they claim will enable the government to appoint and remove Supreme Court judges for political reasons. The Lower House of Parliament passed the legislation on December 20, and it is expected to be assessed by the Senate next week.
In the coming days, travelers in Slovakia should anticipate roadblocks and border crossing closures by striking road haulers. Today, protesting haulers blocked roads in Bratislava and other urban centers, including in the Banska Bystrica, Orava and Zilinsky regions. Demonstrators also disrupted traffic at multiple border crossings within the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary. The strike and demonstrations, which began on January 7, have been organized by the Union of Road Hauliers to demand lower road taxes.
Tomorrow, travelers across the UK should plan journeys bypassing demonstrations calling for a de-escalation of tensions between the US and Iran following recent events in the Middle East. In London, participants led by the “Stop the War” coalition will gather from 12:00 PM local time at BBC Portland Place before marching towards Trafalgar Square for a rally. Although the protest is expected to pass off peacefully, it may be well attended, causing significant traffic disruption. Smaller demonstrations in other urban centers may create local disruption.