US strengthens call for citizens to return home

Wednesday, 15 April 2020 19:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The US embassy today strongly urged those who wish to return to the US to explore commercial flight options immediately, including a SriLankan Airlines flight to London departing on Saturday.

Releasing its latest update, the Embassy said there was no guarantee that the US Government will be able to arrange evacuation flights if airspace closes.

“Waiting and expecting to rely on an evacuation flight is not the best strategy. Evacuation flights are not free-of-charge. Frequently, evacuation flights cost more than commercial air travel,” the update warned.

Qatar and Sri Lankan airlines are providing limited commercial flights departing from Sri Lanka. SriLankan Airlines is operating a flight from Colombo to London on 18 April (arriving in London on 19 April) with a connecting flight to Dallas on 19 April.

On 19 March, the Department of State issued a global Level 4 Health Advisory (Do Not Travel) advising US citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.

In countries where commercial departure options remain available, US citizens who live in the US should arrange for immediate return to the US, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.

If an American citizen is determined to have COVID-19, he or she is likely to be placed in mandatory quarantine in a local Government hospital, consistent with Sri Lankan protocols. The Embassy is severely limited in its ability to visit individuals under quarantine and may be unable, as a practical matter, to secure the release of US citizens until their complete recovery, the alert said.

“The number of commercial flights departing Sri Lanka has significantly diminished. Flight schedules and availability change frequently. In Sri Lanka, all incoming passenger arrivals have been suspended indefinitely. Travellers should be prepared for additional travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice.

US citizens who are considering returning to the US are urged to work with their airlines to make travel arrangements while flights are still available.”