Americans already hyper-concerned about the worsening global Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic became even more so Thursday after the U.S. State Department issued an unprecedented “Global Level 4 Health Advisory — Do Not Travel” warning.
The department’s warning urges every American to cancel international travel, while requesting that citizens currently traveling abroad return immediately.
It sure sounds like the world is about to get locked down, for the most part, thanks to the Chinese, who have unleashed a viral hell on earth.
“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,” the State Dept. announced via Twitter.
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
According to the State Department’s website, if Americans abroad do not wish to return post haste, then it’s not clear when they will be allowed back into the country:
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. … 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.
At the same time, the State Department warned, airlines are simply canceling international flights while cruise ship operators are canceling voyages as well, and with little-to-no advanced notice. (Related: Iran records 147 coronavirus deaths in a single day, MILLIONS more at risk if quarantine measures are not followed.)
“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 warning states.
Numerous U.S. citizens are already in limbo abroad, and the new guidance threatens to stir further anxiety among travelers. U.S. lawmakers have raised questions about the State Department’s ability to aid Americans overseas, but in the new guidance, the department makes clear that U.S. citizens shouldn’t count on it to help.
The State Department is also urging anyone who travels anyway to have a “plan that does not rely on the U.S. government for assistance.”
Seems like the seriousness of the coronavirus just got a lot more intense.
But, that said, the State Department’s warning came after several weeks of increasingly restrictive U.S. travel options, after President Trump ordered a travel ban on China in late January as it became obvious the Communist regime in Beijing was not going to be able to contain the outbreak.
Since then other countries have also closed their borders to international travelers and have also implemented travel restrictions on their own citizens.
Politico reported that as of Thursday there were more than 211,000 cases of the virus worldwide and that it has spread to more than 150 countries, or three-quarters of all countries on the planet. That said, the news site noted that one State Department official stationed overseas worried that the travel advisory would further alarm Americans — which seems like a rather tone-deaf understatement.
Of course, it will. And why wouldn’t it? When the nation’s diplomatic agency issues a declaration that has never been issued before, that would certainly tend to alarm people.
Nevertheless, a global lockdown was probably inevitable. Some countries are handling the virus outbreak fairly well, but that’s only because it hasn’t spread so quickly or so pervasively there. Other places like Italy are being very hard hit. And the virus outbreak is really just getting started in the U.S.
Time to strap in, get prepared and stop pretending this is all a hoax. It just got very real.