State Department urges all Americans to stop foreign travel

State Department issues level four travel advisory

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United States Department of State
United States Department of State
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Last Updated:
March 19, 2020 - 6:57pm

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In a dramatic step to slow the coronavirus pandemic, the State Department on Thursday ordered Americans to avoid all foreign travel while urging citizens overseas to either return home or prepare to shelter in place.

The department issued a level four health advisory as deaths in Italy for the first time surpassed those in China where the virus started. The grim statistic is the clearest sign that Europe has become the new ground zero in the crisis.

The Department also warned that Americans abroad should return as soon as possible unless they are ready to remain out of the country "for an indefinite period."

"In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period," the advisory stated. 

"U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel. 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. Airlines have cancelled many international flights and several cruise operators have suspended operations or cancelled trips. If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe."

Level four travel advisories are the highest level according to the State Department's website. While travel advisories usually deal with individual nations, this advisory is international in scope. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently said the United States will spare no effort to protect its people, and is working to get those stranded abroad home.