JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In an extraordinary move, the U.S. Department of State is urging Americans to avoid all international travel until further notice in response to the global coronavirus outbreak.
The State Department issued the advisory on Thursday as the federal government ramps up efforts to contain the virus, which causes the disease known as COVID-19. The advisory comes one day after the U.S. and Canada agreed to close their shared border to all nonessential travel.
Among other things, the advisory recommends that U.S. citizens traveling internationally make plans to return to the states immediately if possible, citing the growing number of travel restrictions being rolled out with little notice. It also discourages Americans who live abroad from taking any international 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,” the advisory states.
2/ U.S. citizens traveling abroad that do not wish to return should be prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel. https://t.co/QxI1KTbfIE https://t.co/MdNHZvjWCY— Travel - State Dept (@TravelGov) March 19, 2020
Thursday’s advisory follows a similar warning that was issued March 8 calling for all U.S. citizens, but particularly those with underlying health conditions, to avoid cruise travel. That notice was issued as countries began to close their ports to cruise ships in hopes of curbing the spread of coronavirus.
The agency suggests that travelers sign up for its Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), so they can receive alerts and be located sooner in the event of an emergency.