The US State Department has issued a pretty drastic warning, though it’s not necessarily for the reason you might assume…
US advises Americans to reconsider travel abroad
The US Department of State has issued a Global Level 3 Health Advisory, advising Americans to reconsider travel abroad.
This comes after President Trump has announced a travel ban on foreigners who have visited the Schengen area of Europe in the past 14 days.
Here’s the warning from the Department of State:
The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to reconsider travel abroad due to the global impact of COVID-19. Many areas throughout the world are now experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and taking action that may limit traveler mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions. Even countries, jurisdictions, or areas where cases have not been reported may restrict travel without notice.
For those who decide to travel abroad, the US is issuing the following recommendations:
- Review and follow the CDC’s guidelines for the prevention of coronavirus
- Check with your airlines or cruise lines regarding any updated information about your travel plans and/or restrictions
- Visit travel.state.gov to view individual Travel Advisories for the most urgent threats to safety and security
- Visit Embassy webpages on COVID-19 for information on conditions in each country or jurisdiction
- Visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website on the latest travel restrictions to the U.S.
How should we interpret this travel warning?
It would appear to me that this warning is more about travel restrictions resulting from the current situation, rather than the spread of coronavirus as such. As noted, this is being done because countries may limit traveler mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions.
Logically if this were purely about limiting the spread of coronavirus, the government would be warning against all travel by air, closing schools and other public areas, etc.
Thoughts on my upcoming travels…
A lot of readers have been asking whether or not they should reschedule their upcoming travels, etc. I’m obviously not qualified to answer that, everyone has to decide for themselves, and this situation is also evolving hourly, so what’s true now might not be true in a few hours.
Let me share my general feelings about two upcoming trips.
Next week I’m supposed to go to Chicago for a couple of days for some important appointments (they’re not life or death, but still important). As of now (though that’s subject to change) I still plan on taking that trip, and will of course exercise normal precautions.
Then in just over a week, Ford and I are supposed to go to Peru. I’m not sure what I’m planning to do with that just yet.
I guess my perspective differs based on how we’re going to view this whole situation in the US:
- If we’re at the point where people are told not to take any flights (including domestic), schools are closing, any public areas with a big number of people are being closed down, etc., then I guess I should just stay home, lock my door, and call it a month
- If we’re just going to take precautions but continue with our lives, then I think we should still take this trip
Working in favor of this trip is that:
- I don’t view Peru as being any higher risk than the US, and if anything, I actually think it’s lower risk than the US
- I don’t view a flight between the US and Peru as being any riskier than a domestic flight within the US
- Ford and I are both healthy, so unless we’re going to lock ourselves up, I don’t think we’re exposing ourselves (or others) to significantly more risk by going
Working against this trip is that:
- If there are major travel restrictions put in place that limit movement, that could be tricky; at the same time, I don’t expect the US to somehow “ban” Americans from returning home (beyond a self quarantine, maybe), and ultimately I’m pretty good at booking flights, so returning to the US wouldn’t be that challenging if that’s what it came down to
The truth is that I don’t have to make any decisions this very second with the Peru trip — most of the trip can be canceled till a few days out, and the portions that are non-refundable are that way whether I cancel now or in several days.
Again, the above is only my personal view as of now, and that could evolve in the coming hours and days. Personally I’m not quite at the point of feeling like “return to the US this second no matter what” (assuming you’re not in a high risk zone), but others obviously feel differently.
The Department of State is now advising against international travel. This policy seems to primarily be about restrictions that could be put in place by other countries, leaving people stranded.
Everyone will have a different take on what exactly to do with this information.
Where do you stand on this situation — are you locking yourself in a bunker? Are you still considering traveling at all, and if so, under what circumstances?