MYANMAR COUNTRY BRIEF as of 4/23/2020
Myanmar (Burma) (Yangon Region) is assessed as Low-Threat. As with any metropolitan city with a population of 6+ million, Yangon has seen an increase in crime. Nighttime robbery, petty street crime, home invasion, and homicide are at rates similar to other major cities in Southeast Asia.
Crimes reported to the Myanmar Tourist Police by foreign visitors mainly consist of pickpocketing, theft of unattended possessions in public places and bag snatchings.
Violent crime and the use of weapons in the commission of crimes are not common.
Internal ethnic conflicts, communal violence, and religious tensions make certain areas outside of Yangon more dangerous and some are off-limits to foreign travelers.
Yangon is listed as a MEDIUM-threat location for terrorism. The government is sensitive to the threat of terrorism and engages with international partners on this issue. There is no evidence to suggest that terrorist organizations have operational capacity in Myanmar. The government is not a state sponsor of terrorist activities and does not knowingly allow foreign fighters to transit the country. However, we are vigilant to the fact that terrorists can target Westerners anywhere in the world. While both Al-Qa’ida in the Indian Sub-Continent (AQIS) and the Islamic State in the Philippines (ISIS-P) have threatened to launch attacks in Myanmar in response to the Rakhine crisis, so far those threats have not happened.
Yangon has been listed as being a HIGH-threat location for political violence directed at or affecting U.S. interests. There is a higher risk of political violence in other parts of the country. This political violence is limited primarily to states in Myanmar’s periphery. Fighting between the Burmese military (Tatmadaw) and various ethnic armed groups (EAGs) and militia forces continues in several border regions, including parts of Kachin, Shan, Rakhine, and Chin states. Fighting generally does not occur in the destinations our executives have frequented, including Yangon, Bagan, Loikaw, Mkitkyina, Kalaw-Inle Lake region, Ngapali Beach, Naypyitaw or Mandalay.
However, we remain very cautious and alert for sporadic violence when taking executives to Rakhine State, Chin State, Kachin State and Shan State. All of these areas have experienced sporadic armed conflict and unrest.
I meet with Myanmar Police and government security force leaders on a regular basis and we have a military liaison officer who reports to us on danger areas and conflict zones.
Myanmar as of 29 May had reported 224 positive cases of COVID-19 and six deaths related to the disease. All executives are met with a package containing hand-sanitizer, masks (surgical & N95) and an information card with phone numbers of local hospitals that have been vetted for the treatment of foreigners. We strongly recommend that all visiting executives have an International SOS card in case of the need for medical evacuation.
All of our Security Drivers have first aid training and are CPR certified. All of our vehicles are sanitized regularly and carry first aid kits, masks and hand sanitizer and I am implementing AEDs for our vehicles. All of our drivers conduct route surveys and are familiar with the locations of safe zones and where the clinics are that we feel are most suitable for treating foreign guests.
Burma has the ability to test for COVID-19 infections domestically.
There has been no change in the availability of fuel, food, or water in Myanmar due to COVID-19.
COVID-19 has disrupted the regular supply of some imported food products.
Criminal penalties exist, and are being applied, for violating Burma’s disease-control efforts.
On March 14, 2020, the U.S. Department of State authorized the departure from any diplomatic or consular post, including U.S. Embassy Rangoon, of U.S. personnel and family members who have been medically determined to be at a higher risk of a poor outcome if exposed to COVID-19.
The U.S. government has suspended all Peace Corps operations globally and Peace Corps volunteers in Burma returned to the United States.
The U.S. government is actively cooperating and assisting the Burmese government in its COVID-19 detection and preparation efforts.
The U.S. Embassy coordinated a repatriation flight for U.S. citizens on April 6, 2020. Given demand for the April 6 flight, we do not anticipate organizing another flight.
Activity Restrictions within Burma:
• The Burmese government has instituted stay-at-home orders, curfews, bans on public gatherings, and closures of public events, entertainment venues, and religious institutions.
• Restaurants and tea shops, except those in certain Yangon townships, are resuming business with new precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19.
• The Burmese government imposed a nationwide ban on gatherings of five or more people, effective April 17 to June 15. Exceptions include work commutes for public servants, corporate employees, and factory workers; medical emergencies; shopping at permitted markets; delivery of goods; employment activities; public, private, and monastic schools; holding meetings, discussions, and classes in line with Ministry of Health guidelines; eating at restaurants that follow Ministry of Health guidelines; official COVID-19 control and protection activities; and funerals.
• There is a nationwide curfew in place, from 12:00 A.M. to 4:00 A.M. The government is actively enforcing this curfew.
• Stay-at-home orders that originally went into effect April 25 remain in place for the following two Yangon townships: Mayangone and Insein. The order contains exceptions for those who must “perform duties at government departments, organizations, companies, factories, and workshops.”
• Only vehicles transporting workers to and from their workplaces will be permitted to pass through the six townships.
• One person per household is permitted to leave the house for essential shopping or “unavoidable circumstances,” and two per household can leave to go to a hospital or clinic. The number of vehicle passengers will be regulated accordingly. Residents should seek approval from their ward administrator if there is a need for more than the designated number of people/passengers to leave their home or commute.
• Intra-provincial bus service is restarting, but service is not at normal levels.
• All persons leaving their residence must wear a mask.
• Health authorities are conducting spot health checks in all 33 Yangon municipal townships, and may order persons suspected of having COVID-19 into quarantine.
The Mandalay Regional Government announced a mandatory 21-day facility quarantine and 7-day home quarantine for persons entering Mandalay Region from states and regions with COVID-19 positive cases. Persons entering Mandalay from Burma’s states and regions without COVID-19 cases are subject to a medical exam and may be quarantined.
The Mandalay Regional Government issued orders on April 16 and 20 providing updated guidance on business closures, curfew, and travel:
Business Closures: Businesses, hotels, motels, guest houses, inns, construction sites, and retail shops must remain closed. Essential goods/services (grocery stores, food production, medical facilities and pharmacies, public hospitals, petrol stations, power stations, and banks) will remain open. As of May 22, some markets are allowed to resume business as part of a phased reopening.
Stay-at-Home Guidance: Residents are instructed to stay at home during the daytime. Anyone leaving their homes for sufficient reasons (including buying or selling goods at a local market) must wear a mask.
Residents are permitted to travel in private vehicles, as long as there are no more than four passengers (including the driver). Vehicles transporting goods for trading purposes are permitted. People and vehicles traveling in Mandalay for trade purposes must have permission from the relevant ward office and Mandalay City Development Office. Buses carrying passengers for religious pilgrimage, picnics, and tourism are not permitted.
Nay Pyi Taw:
The Nay Pyi Taw Council instructed local law enforcement to systematically inspect via checkpoints the health of all people entering Nay Pyi Taw, effective April 19. Any person traveling to Nay Pyi Taw at this time is subject to a 21-day facility quarantine followed by a 7-day home quarantine.
Travel restrictions and mandatory public health measures are in force in most parts of Burma. U.S. citizens travelling or resident anywhere in Burma should ensure they have the latest information on COVID-19 prevention measures in the locations they plan to visit, or currently reside in. Note that new measures may be put into place with little or no advance notice.
Domestic Travel within Burma:
Airlines: A limited number of domestic commercial flights are operating.
Trains: Only three train routes currently remain in operation:
Yangon (Main Station) – Mandalay
Yangon (Main Station) – Mawlawmyine
Yangon (Kyimyintdine Township) – Pyay
Buses: Intra-provincial bus service is restarting, but service is not at normal levels.
Effective March 30, the Burmese government will no longer allow international commercial passenger flights to land at any airport in Burma. This suspension will last until at least June 15. All landing permissions previously granted are suspended. Exceptions apply to “relief flights, all-cargo flights, medical evacuation flights and special flights specifically approved by the Department of Civil Aviation.” A relief flight organized by the Italian Embassy is scheduled for June 5, flying from Yangon to Milan.
On March 19, the Burmese government announced the temporary suspension of entry and exit of foreign nationals through land borders. U.S. citizens cannot enter/exit Burma from/to any of Burma’s land borders with Thailand, Laos, China, India, and Bangladesh.
On March 24, the Burmese government updated implemented enhanced screening and quarantine measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, to include the following, beginning March 25:
All incoming arrivals, including Burmese nationals, are required to present a medical certificate showing that they have no symptoms of acute respiratory illness (fever and cough or shortness of breath) before boarding any airline destined for Burma. All arrivals regardless of nationality are required to undergo quarantine in a Burmese government facility for 21 days after arriving in Burma, followed by a 7-day home quarantine.
All foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens and all diplomats and U.N. officials, are required to present laboratory evidence of absence of COVID-19 infection issued no more than 72 hours prior to the date of travel before boarding any airline destined to Burma. They will be required to undergo quarantine in a Burmese government facility for 21 days after arriving in Burma, followed by a 7-day home quarantine.
The Burmese government suspended the e-visa and visa-on-arrival programs.
From March 29 until at least June 15, the Burmese government suspended the issuance of all types of visas to all foreign nationals, except diplomats accredited to Burma, United Nations officials resident in Burma and crew of ships and aircraft operating to and from Burma.
Some U.S. citizens have reported being asked to submit to a COVID-19-focused health examination as part of their Burmese visa renewal process.
The Burmese government is conducting temperature and travel history screening at all ports of entry.
Private businesses in Burma are voluntarily conducting temperature screening. These institutions may deny services to individuals, including U.S. citizens, with fevers based on their own decisions.
The Burmese government is not notifying the U.S. Embassy when a U.S. citizen is ordered into quarantine. If you are a U.S. citizen and are ordered in to COVID-19-related quarantine in Burma, please call the Embassy at 01-753-6509 to notify us and seek assistance.
The Burmese government has established isolation units at most public hospitals and some designated private hotels across Burma. The quality of these isolation units may vary greatly from U.S. hospital isolation units.
If a U.S. citizen is quarantined for COVID-19, the location of the quarantine will be a Burmese public hospital, Buddhist monastery, or designated hotel.
If a U.S. citizen is quarantined for COVID-19, the facility quarantine may last for 21 days, followed by a 7-day home quarantine. During the quarantine period, any U.S. Embassy assistance will be subject to Burmese government approval.
The Burmese government has not provided the U.S. Embassy with detailed information on how it will treat quarantined U.S. citizens.
The Ministry of Health and Sports publishes data daily about COVID-19 on its website (https://mohs.gov.mm/Main/content/publication/2019-ncov)