Novel coronavirus information

March 20, 2020

All official UW travel outside of the United States is restricted until further notice

This message was sent to students, staff, faculty and other academic personnel across the University of Washington.

Dear UW students, faculty and staff:

I am writing to communicate new restrictions on official UW student and employee travel due to the COVID-19 outbreak. On March 19, 2020, the U.S. Department of State issued a global “Level  4: Do Not Travel” health advisory. The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return.

As a result of this new advisory:

  • All official travel outside the United States by University of Washington employees and students is restricted until further notice, effective immediately.
  • No exceptions to this restriction will be made as the UW travel waiver process has also been suspended.
  • No UW funds can be used to support any travel outside the United States until further notice.
  • Because of insurance exclusions triggered by a Department of State Level 4 travel advisory, UW-sponsored travel insurance and emergency assistance will not be available for any new
  • The UW Office of Global Affairs website provides more details and resources for travelers currently outside the United States.

These restrictions do not apply to personal travel. However, we strongly encourage you to review applicable travel warnings and in-country restrictions for your destination. We are uncertain on how long these travel restrictions will last so it is important to be well-informed before you travel.

We are deeply concerned about members of the Husky community who are currently stuck outside the U.S. due to travel restrictions imposed by various nations. Be sure to connect with the embassy of your nationality in case you need emergency assistance. If you haven’t done so already, sign up for the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive updates directly from the Embassy (you can sign up for STEP even if you are not a U.S. citizen).

If you are currently abroad, you may face a situation where you have to remain where you are for a period of time. This is referred to as “sheltering in place.” If you must shelter in place, acquire safe food and water supplies to last you several days (ideally two weeks) in case of acute shortages. The UW Global Travel Security team is in communication with UW travelers outside the U.S. to offer support and resources.

For all Huskies here and abroad, remember:

  1. Clean your hands often.
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  3. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  4. Put distance between yourself and other people – at least six feet – and do not gather in groups.
  5. Sneeze or cough into a tissue, or the inside of your elbow.
  6. Disinfect frequently used items and surfaces as much as possible.

The Husky community is a global community, and we are deeply saddened by the circumstances that make this travel restriction necessary. The University of Washington is a global University – now and always – and we look forward to a bright future in which our students, faculty and staff are again traveling the world in pursuit of discovery and in service to humanity.


Mark Richards
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor, Earth and Space Sciences