On March 18, the State Department issued new Level 3 Reconsider Travel Advisories for Micronesia and Tajikistan, and a Level 4 Travel Advisory for Mongolia. It also announced the voluntary departure order for two posts for non-emergency staffers and family members and a mandatory departure order for one post for all non-essential personnel. Voluntary or “authorized departure” means employees and family members have the option to remain at post. An “ordered departure” is a mandatory order to leave post (see more below).
On March 11, 2020, the Department of State allowed for the voluntary departure of non-emergency U.S. Government employees and all eligible family members from US Embassy Kolonia, in Micronesia “due to stringent travel restrictions that affect commercial flights.”
On March 12, the Department ordered the departure of all nonessential personnel from“due to travel, transport, and other restrictions related to Mongolia’s response to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19.”
On March 13, 2020, the State Department allowed for the voluntary departure of non-emergency personnel and family members of U.S. government employees from US Embassy Dushanbe due to “declining commercial flight availability and travel screening procedures implemented by the Government of Tajikistan.”
Micronesia Travel Advisory – Level 3 Reconsider Travel (March 18, 2020)
Reconsider Travel to the Federated States of Micronesia due to the Global Health Advisory and Embassy Kolonia’s limited capacity to provide support to U.S. citizens.
On March 11, 2020, the Department of State allowed for the voluntary departure of non-emergency U.S. Government employees and all eligible family members due to stringent travel restrictions that affect commercial flights.
As of March 18, 2020, there are no confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), but the country’s health system has limited capacity for handling an outbreak. A recent reduction in commercial flights and difficulty in arranging medevac flights may make it difficult or impossible to seek medical evacuation. Travelers should consider these factors and their health before traveling to the FSM and follow the Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines for the prevention of coronavirus if they decide to travel.
Mongolia Travel Advisory: Level 4: Do Not Travel (March 18, 2020)
Do Not Travel to Mongolia due to the Global Health Advisory and Mongolia’s suspension of all international travel in response to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 in neighboring countries.
On March 10, 2020, Mongolia suspended travel to and from foreign locations until at least March 28. Virtually all commercial flights, passenger rail, and auto traffic into and out of Mongolia are suspended during this time period. Domestic air and rail travel will also be suspended from March 10 until at least March 16. For the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19-related issues affecting travelers in Mongolia please see the U.S Embassy in Mongolia’s COVID-19 Information page.
On February 25, 2020, the Department of State allowed for the voluntary departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees and all family members. On March 12, the Department ordered the departure of all nonessential personnel due to travel, transport, and other restrictions related to Mongolia’s response to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19.
Tajikistan Travel Advisory – Level 3: Reconsider Travel (March 18, 2020)
Reconsider travel to Tajikistan due to the Global Health Advisory and measures implemented by the Government of Tajikistan in response to COVID-19.
On March 13, 2020, the State Department allowed for the voluntary departure of non-emergency personnel and family members of U.S. government employees due to declining commercial flight availability and travel screening procedures implemented by the Government of Tajikistan.
Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice. Visit the U.S. Embassy Dushanbe website for additional information on these new measures.
Medical protocols in Tajikistan are not consistent with U.S. standards. Consider declining any medical testing unrelated to COVID-19.
Due to the possibility of quarantine of unknown length, carry additional supplies of necessary medication in carry-on luggage. Contact the U.S. Embassy if you are subject to quarantine or prior to undergoing any invasive medical testing or procedures.
Meanwhile we got a question in our inbox about Lebanon (a Level 3 Reconsider Travel country per Lebanon Travel Advisory issued on October 21, 2019):
“Beirut airport just closed and that means no way out due to geography. Why are they not on OD? Who is in charge at State?”
Per 3 FAM 3770, “authorized departure” is an evacuation procedure, short of ordered departure, by which post employees and/or eligible family members are permitted to leave post in advance of normal rotation when U.S. national interests or imminent threat to life requires it. Departure is requested by the chief of mission (COM) and approved by the Under Secretary for Management (M).
An “ordered departure” is an evacuation procedure by which the number of U.S. government employees, eligible family members, or both, at a Foreign Service post is reduced. Ordered departure is mandatory and may be initiated by the chief of mission or the Secretary of State.
And its a wrap – The Beirut Rafic Hariri international airport is closed, as it seems,flights are halted and all cancelled as seen on the screen. Last week we had no idea that things were headed this way, and now I think: will life ever be normal again? #Lebanon #Covid_19 pic.twitter.com/oJqAG7EEOM
— Luna Safwan – لونا صفوان (@LunaSafwan) March 18, 2020
Riots rock overcrowded Lebanon prisons over coronavirus fearshttps://t.co/RGwgLEAKjR pic.twitter.com/LKpiV9JfFT
— Al Jazeera News (@AJENews) March 17, 2020
Ambassador Shea met with the LAF commander, discussing COVID-19 response & noting the US remains committed to strengthening LAF’s capacity as the sole legitimate arm defense of the Government of Lebanon to secure Lebanon’s borders, defend its sovereignty & preserve its stability https://t.co/mZmfOI76MC
— U.S. Embassy Beirut (@usembassybeirut) March 17, 2020