Two weeks ago, the US State Department raised their worldwide alert level to Level 4 (what do alert levels really mean)- telling Americans not to travel abroad. Furthermore, they told people they should consider coming back to the US. Yesterday, they told Americans another message that they “should make plans to return home NOW” (their emphasis).
US Citizens Should Make Plans to Return Home NOW
Here is what this message from the State Department had to say:
— Travel – State Dept (@TravelGov) April 2, 2020
If you want to see what is going on with the US for citizens abroad, you should definitely follow their Twitter account – @TravelGov. Everyday, they are talking about the countries where flights are available back to the US, repatriation flights, and other news bits that Americans in various countries should know.
What is Changing?
These messages have been ramping up over the last couple of days as more airlines announce the suspension of flights, including to the US. One of the main dates I have been noticing is that many countries and repatriation flights will not be available after April 5. While there are still some that will be flying after that point, it definitely looks like the US is pushing to encourage all citizens to be home this weekend.
We urge those intending to return to the US to do so as soon as possible, and take the earliest flight available.
— Travel – State Dept (@TravelGov) April 3, 2020
The exception is for Americans that are prepared and able to stay abroad indefinitely. For those Americans, it could make more sense to shelter where they are at – if they have a place to stay indefinitely and are financially able to stay. The US is having cases of coronavirus climb at a high rate and many states are still not locked down like many countries are to prevent the spread.
There has been some noise about state borders closing in the US. Also, airlines are rapidly drawing down on their international flights with some airlines suspending flights completely. I have been hearing some noise from some people that could be pointing to the state borders closing soon in the US which would prevent people that are traveling back to the US from getting to their state of residence. The US could also be preparing to close all borders into the US.
The US has already repatriated over 30,000 citizens from all over the world in what Secretary Pompeo says “Never in the Department’s 230-year history have we led a worldwide evacuation of such geographic scale and complexity.”
Americans should not count on repatriation flights to be organized from every country, as this message states regarding the UK.
International commercial flight options exist in the UK. #USCits wising to return home should make commercial arrangements ASAP unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.
We do not anticipate arranging repatriation flights in the UK at this time. https://t.co/VDdyZS2rIF
— US Embassy London Consular (@USAinUKConsular) April 3, 2020
The same is true for Greece as this message was just sent out: “International commercial flight options currently exist in Greece. U.S. citizens who wish to return to the United States should make commercial arrangements as soon as possible unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. The U.S. government does not anticipate arranging repatriation flights in Greece at this time.”
US isn’t immune to health issues and virus but a US citizen will likely have an easier time dealing with this all from the comfort of their own home in the US instead of as a visitor in a different country. [See what the US can and cannot do in a crisis]
What if You Decide to Stay Abroad?
Read this post for more information but, at the very least, you should sign-up for the STEP service with the State Department to be informed of all updates relevant for US citizens in the country you are in.
Also, be prepared financially as well, and this means having cash available also. Do not count on being able to stay in a hotel indefinitely either as many hotels are closing down in some countries.
If you are an American abroad, the US is being clear (without offering detailed specifics) that time is running out to go back to the US. Whether it is border closures, flight cancellations, or something else, if you want to be in the US, you should definitely make plans to get back as soon as possible.