The State Department lifted its blanket international travel advisory Thursday, almost five months after first urging Americans against overseas travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the department will revert to issuing recommendations on a country-specific basis.
The department cited “health and safety conditions improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others” in its decision to alter the advisory system and said the change in method will allow travelers to make “informed decisions” based on the situation in specific countries.
“We continue to recommend U.S. citizens exercise caution when traveling abroad due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic,” the statement said.
While the United States may be lifting its blanket advisory for overseas travels by Americans, other countries are currently restricting American citizens from entry due to the scale of the pandemic outbreak in the United States, which now has more than 4.8 million cases of the virus — far more than any other country in the world.
The original U.S. advisory, issued on March 19, encouraged American travelers to “arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period” if they were in “countries where commercial departure options remain available.”
At the time, much was still unknown about the spread of the coronavirus. Cases were on the rise in several hotspots around the globe, and as travel restrictions went into place and demand for air travel plummeted, many airlines canceled once-popular flight routes. Travelers from around the world were left scrambling to return to their home countries. Many people, including U.S. citizens, found themselves stuck in countries they were only visiting on a short-term basis.