State Department: Do Not Travel

US citizens are urged to stay home. Those abroad are urged to return now or risk not being able to later.

The US Department of State has issued a stark warning:

The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.  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.  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.

On March 14, the Department of State authorized the departure of U.S. personnel and family members from any diplomatic or consular post in the world who have determined they are at higher risk of a poor outcome if exposed to COVID-19 or who have requested departure based on a commensurate justification.  These departures may limit the ability of U.S. Embassies and consulates to provide services to U.S. citizens.

Emphasis mine.

This strikes me as a perfectly reasonable order at this time. My only concern is that they haven’t specified a timeline for return and may induce panic. We want people to return soon but we don’t want them to do so all at once such that we don’t have the capacity to screen them safely and efficiently. The last thing we want is a repeat of the recent airport fiasco.

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FILED UNDER: COVID-19, Health
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. rachel says:

    I live and work in Seoul. I had been planning to go to the States to visit my family in the summer like I usually do, but I doubt that will happen this year.

    2
  2. Sleeping Dog says:

    @rachel:

    You’re safer in SK Rachel.

    10
  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    Virtually anywhere you are overseas, possibly excepting Italy, you’re better off staying. We appear to be uniquely incompetent at managing this mess.

    6
  4. Kit says:

    My only concern is that they haven’t specified a timeline for return and may induce panic. We want people to return soon but we don’t want them to do so all at once such that we don’t have the capacity to screen them safely and efficiently.

    I would hope that the number of people allowed to enter the country (especially with regards to the number of arriving flights) is tied to the country’s ability to screen these people. Panicking expats shouldn’t lead to an increase in flights, unless, of course, the airports have the bandwidth to process them.

    In any case, I strongly suspect that expats follow the news more closely to folks back home.

  5. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Indeed! I wish I were back in South Korea right now. I’d feel a lot more confident.

  6. Moosebreath says:

    The old Saturday Night Live fake commercial about the Iranian Express Card — Don’t Leave Home! seems apt.

    2
  7. DrDaveT says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Virtually anywhere you are overseas, possibly excepting Italy, you’re better off staying.

    I’ve actually been trying to tease some information out of the data to figure out which countries are handling things better than others. The disparity in test density (and questionable reporting from some places) makes it hard, but there are some recognizable differences.

    Places that seem to be doing well: South Korea, Japan*, Iceland, Australia, Norway, Sweden. Possibly New Zealand; it’s too early to tell.

    Places doing even worse than the typical exponential growth: US and Ireland

    Italy is now actually doing much better than average, though it came too late.

    *Japan’s trends are so different from anywhere else that it’s impossible to tell whether they are an order of magnitude more effective than any other country outside China or are somehow fudging the numbers.

    2
  8. Mu Yixiao says:

    @rachel:

    Seoul was the only place (other than Hong Kong–because it’s easy) that I visited more than once while I was in Asia. I Stayed at the same little guest house both times (K-Star–about 2 blocks from the train station), had strange food from little shops (and loved it all), found an American/British style pub that was fun, discovered “honey-butter almonds” (why don’t we have these here?!), was surprised at how small the city is, was momentarily taken-aback by the number of swastikas I saw (until my brain kicked in with the explanation), and felt a little proud when the old women who owned a hole-in-the-wall restaurant I stopped at smiled as I dug into the kim chee. 🙂

    You’ve got a great city. It’s one of the places I’d actually like to go back to and explore at my leisure.