Washington, Oregon and California issue travel advisories to slow spread of COVID-19

As cases of COVID-19 increase across the U.S., Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday issued travel advisories urging visitors entering their states or returning home from another state to self-quarantine to help slow the spread of the virus.

“COVID-19 cases have doubled in Washington over the past two weeks. This puts our state in as dangerous a position today as we were in March,” Inslee said. “Limiting and reducing travel is one way to reduce further spread of the disease. I am happy to partner with California and Oregon in this effort to help protect lives up and down the West Coast.”

The advisories urge against traveling out of state unless it’s essential. Those arriving from another state or country are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Essential travel is defined as travel for work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security.

The advisory caught some travelers by surprise at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Friday.

“We didn’t know about it!” said Vanessa Ortiz, who was flying in from Phoenix to visit a friend.

She and another friend she was traveling with said they were a little hesitant to go through with their plans in the first place, and looked online to see if there were any restrictions.

“We kept checking to see if we were ok to travel here and it was all good,” Ortiz said. “We were kind of like should we go, should we not go? Then we were like we should just go and see how it is,” Ortiz said.

She said they might’ve rethought their plans had they known about the advisory. The travel advisory is not a mandate — and any violations do not come with any penalties. That has Ortiz saying some travelers might not listen.

“Probably not. I have family that live in Hawaii and over there it’s like, they do it because they’re going to get fined,” Ortiz said.

IHME researchers say the advisory is a good call, given the surge in cases — and it sends a strong message ahead of the holidays.

“Reminding everybody that we are facing a serious virus and we have to take precautions,” said Ali Mokdad, professor of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

“You’re putting an advisory out there, and it’s an advisory for me and my family, for me and my friends. In a way that’s as strong as a mandate in my opinion,” Mokdad said.

The advisories also urge people to limit their interactions with others to their own household and stay local. >>Read the Washington travel advisory here.

The announcement comes a day after Inslee and his wife, Trudi Inslee, gave a televised update asking Washington residents to change their holiday plans and not gather with others outside their households.