Department of State advises against all international travel; Americans abroad should return immediately

Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:
Plane lifts off for flight. Photo via CBS News.
Plane lifts off for flight. Photo via CBS News.

Another stern warning for U.S. citizens—there is now an advisory to avoid international travel.

Also, if someone you know is overseas now, the Department of State warns if they don’t immediately return, they should prepare to stay overseas for an indefinite period of time.

Plain and simple, Global Health Warning Level 4 means DO NOT travel abroad.

It’s not a legal ban, but it does mean there’s a risk any American abroad may not be able to get back home.

The U.S. issued it’s highest level travel alert for every country in the world.

Some in Southwest Florida say they expected the stern warning.

Americans abroad right now are advised to return immediately or be prepared to stay abroad indefinitely.

“That’s the big thing, just stay where you are,” said one man we talked to. His daughter is a flight attendant and his family is already feeling the effects as countries close borders and airlines cut flights.

“She was afraid she was going to get laid off,” he said. “The airline she flew on had 80 empty seats.”

The World Health Organization says there are nearly 200,000 cases across 150 countries.

Now, the travel warning is at its most severe to protect travelers from any severe spread.

“Unreal. All you can do is just deal with it. That’s all,” he said.

For those trying to leave RSW or come back, we noticed signs at the airport warning travelers of long security lines—three hours for international. They’re asking people to get here two hours early for flights.

You can read the full statement from the Department of State below:

“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 canceled many international flights and several cruise operators have suspended operations or canceled 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.

For the latest information regarding COVID-19, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website.

You are encouraged to visit to view individual Travel Advisories for the most urgent threats to safety and security. Please also visit the website of the relevant U.S. embassy or consulate to see information on entry restrictions, foreign quarantine policies, and urgent health information provided by local governments.

Travelers are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. The Department uses these Alerts to convey information about terrorist threats, security incidents, planned demonstrations, natural disasters, etc. In an emergency, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate or call the following numbers: 1(888) 407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1 (202) 501-4444 from other countries or jurisdictions.

If you decide to travel abroad or are already outside the United States:

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