The U.S. State Department has just raised the global travel advisory to a level 4 in amid the rapid spread of COVID-19. Before the increase, which happened on Thursday, it was just suggested and recommended that people not travel internationally. However, since there are growing cases across the U.S. and world, the advisory now applies to all international travel and is encouraging those abroad to return home immediately.
"The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19," the statement read on the State Department website. "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. U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel."
According to the New York Times, a level 4 is usually only reserved for a state of war.
Travel Advisory: Level 4 - The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of #COVID19. In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the US should arrange for immediate return. pic.twitter.com/MydSzFffYd— Travel - State Dept (@TravelGov) March 19, 2020
As the challenges of traveling have increased, they have also warned those living abroad may find it more difficult in the coming days to return home as countries around the world — including those who have not yet been affected by the virus — are starting to restrict incoming and outgoing flights in efforts to stop the spread.
"Airlines have canceled many international flights and several cruise operators have suspended operations or cancelled trips," the statement continued to read. "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 time frame."
They've made a few suggestions in case of a situation where an individual is unable to return to the U.S. or still plans on traveling abroad saying to have a plan put in place that does not call for relying on the U.S. Government for assistance. Also, they're encouraging people to check in with airlines, cruise lines and other travel providers for information, as well as, visiting the Embassy webpages for further details and restrictions.
At first, President Donald Trump began implementing restrictions on travel to Europe, excluding the U.K. and Ireland, however, those have now been added to the list. He also has closed the border to Canada, outside of traded goods.