Today, March 19th, the U.S. State Department announced that it was raising its travel advisory for all international flights to its highest level, Level 4 — a “do not travel” advisory. The warning directs “U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.” Last week, the State Department’s advisory was set globally at Level 3, which encourages travelers to reconsider non-essential travel, and the week prior to that the Level 3 designation only applied to South Korea, China, Italy, and Iran.
Additionally, the State Department urged American citizens abroad “in countries where commercial departure options remain available…arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period” and cautioned US citizens living abroad to avoid international travel of any kind. The tone and tenor of the warning seems to set the table for a lockdown of flights to and from the US and potentially interstate travel as well.
The advisory states that “Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice.”
While the travel advisory is just that, an advisory, the State Department warns that those who decide to travel abroad, or are already outside of the United States to “have a travel plan that doesn’t rely on the U.S. Government for assistance.” Which is a nice way of saying, if you don’t come home, you’re screwed as far as the government is concerned.