The State Department announced on Thursday its most severe international travel advisory yet as the coronavirus pandemic spreads around the globe.
The department raised its global travel advisory to level 4 — the highest possible level. The advisory instructs Americans against traveling abroad and urges all Americans currently abroad to return to the U.S. immediately. For Americans who already live abroad, the advisory urges them to avoid international travel altogether.
Acknowledging how Americans abroad are struggling to return home after countries began issuing measures in an effort to combat the pandemic — which include travel restrictions, border closures, mandatory quarantines and airline cancelations — the advisory warned if U.S. citizens choose to travel internationally, their travel plans may be “severely disrupted” and may be forced to remain outside of the U.S. indefinitely.
The advisory also notes that the State Department authorized the departure of U.S. personnel and family members from any diplomatic or consular post that are at “higher risk of a poor outcome” if exposed to COVID-19 last Saturday. Additionally, the advisory warns that staff departures may limit the ability of U.S. Embassies and consulates to provide services to U.S. citizens.
The move comes less than a week after the department raised its global travel advisory to level 3, which instructed Americans to reconsider traveling abroad.
On Tuesday, Pompeo officially acknowledged for the first time that a “handful” of his staff has been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, confirming that “a couple” of his staffers have tested positive for the coronavirus.
TPM reached out to the State Department for comment. We will update this post if we hear back.