CDC shakes up "Do Not Travel" recommendations to 90 countries

CDC shakes up "Do Not Travel" recommendations to 90 countries

The CDC dropped “Do Not Travel” recommendations for about 90 international destinations. The recommendations put into place were a part of the agency’s guidance for travelers during the coronavirus pandemic. This is more proof that the pandemic is coming to an end. The mask mandate on public transportation ended, though the Biden administration may appeal the federal judge’s ruling, and strident Do Not Travel warnings have been lifted.

The CDC revised travel recommendations and is now reserving Level 4 travel health warnings “for special circumstances, such as rapidly escalating case trajectory or extremely high case counts.” The countries and regions that were dropped to Level 3: High are the U.K., France, Israel, Turkey, Australia, Greece, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain and Russia. (You may want to reconsider a decision to travel to Russia but for another reason besides COVID-19.)

Other countries with lower level advisories now are Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Central African Republic, Chile, Czech Republic, Jordan, Lebanon, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Somalia, Uruguay and Vietnam.

There are no countries at Level 4, which as been renamed “Special Circumstances/Do Not Travel.” The State Department is sharply cutting back on “Do Not Travel” advisories for international travels. The State Department rates 215 countries and territories. There are about 120 currently at Level 4, including most of Europe, Japan, Israel, and Russia.

The State Department said the update leaves “approximately 10% of all travel advisories at Level 4” and all risk factors are included, not just COVID-19. “We believe the updated framework will help U.S. citizens make better informed decisions about the safety of international travel.”

The next update will likely be lifting the pre-departure COVID negative test requirement for overseas travel. Many other countries have already done that. Opponents of the test requirement argue that the Do Not Travel advisories aren’t necessary and they discourage travel. The Biden administration is reviewing the issue. No changes have been made yet.

Level 3 is the largest grouping. It now indicates a very high level of COVID-19 transmission. Countries classified under Level 3 are those with more than 100 new cases reported per 100,000 people during the past 28 days. There are about 122 countries and destinations under Level 3.

Here’s the catch – all of these updates in advisory guidance only apply to vaccinated travelers. Travelers are advised to make sure COVID-19 vaccinations are up to date and if not, avoid travel to those international destinations.

Level 2 will be used to indicate a moderate level of COVID-19 transmission and Level 1 for a low level of COVID-19 transmission.

There is a Level Unknown: COVID-19 Unknown grouping, proving that the CDC is as confused as the rest of us when it comes to travel guidance. Ukraine is in this group.

The bottom line is that the chairs on the Titanic have been moved. There are no more countries listed as Level 4 – they have been moved to Level 3. Make your own decisions on international travel, unless you aren’t vaccinated. The CDC recommends that non-vaccinated travelers do not travel internationally. Many countries have a proof of vaccination requirement to enter anyway. For non-citizens who travel by air to the United States from a foreign country, proof of being fully vaccinated is required.

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