Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman March 6, 2020

False claim embellishes US travel restrictions due to coronavirus

If Your Time is short

  • International travel has been suspended or reduced to and from certain “high-risk” countries and there are new screening procedures.

  • There is currently no mandate that states Americans are barred from returning to the U.S. from anywhere overseas.

Concerns about the novel coronavirus run aplenty on Facebook, leading in some cases to false bulletins on U.S. travel restrictions.

One post on Facebook claims that, starting in March 2020, if you travel outside of the United States you won’t be allowed back in the country "due to the high risk" of COVID-19. 

The post, shared on Feb. 27, says: "STARTING NEXT WEEK MARCH 3/2020!!!!!!

"IF YOU LEAVE ANYWHERE OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA YOU WILL NOT BE ALLOWED BACK INTO THE UNITED STATES DUE TO HIGH RISK OF THE Coronavirus so if anyone is planning a big trip or cruise please be aware!!!!!!"

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

There is no evidence of a sweeping travel restriction that would bar an American citizen from re-entering the U.S. after traveling internationally.

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So far the U.S. government has taken much more limited action out of concern for COVID-19. There are new travel advisories, different rules in place for foreign nationals and new screening procedures.

As of March 5, 2020, the State Department recommends that people not travel to China or Iran and reconsider travel to South Korea, Italy and Mongolia. Advisories for each location –– like this one for Italy –– provide additional details on specific areas of the country and health information for that area. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends people avoid all nonessential travel to those same countries and has a coronavirus-related travel page that provides guidance for international travelers. 

There are new screening procedures for people arriving to the U.S. from "high-risk countries." Foreign nationals who have spent the past 14 days in either China or Iran will not be permitted inside the country, according to the CDC. The rules are different for U.S. citizens. They may be subject to health monitoring after leaving either of those countries. 

Several airlines have suspended or reduced operations to certain locations due to concerns for COVID-19 and reduced demand. 

American Airlines and Delta Air Lines are both halting flights to and from Milan, Italy, as well as several airports in or around China. Both airlines also announced a reduction in service between the U.S. and South Korea. United Airlines made similar changes, suspending operations to and from several Chinese airports, including Beijing and Shanghai, and Hong Kong. 

This sweeping claim exaggerates current coronavirus-related travel restrictions and omits critical information. We rate it False.

Our Sources

Facebook post, Feb. 27, 2020 

USA.gov,  International Travel Issues for Americans, Accessed March 3, 2020 

U.S. Department of State, Travel Advisories, Accessed March 3, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel, Feb. 29, 2020

Reuters, Trump White House warns Americans against travel to South Korea, Italy, Feb. 29, 2020

Washington Post, How to think about travel as the coronavirus threat evolves, March 2, 2020

CNN, Travelers will face new restrictions and cancellations as coronavirus cases grow in the US, March 2, 2020

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False claim embellishes US travel restrictions due to coronavirus

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