US CDC Reduces Travel Alerts For 61 Countries

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reduced the travel alert for 61 countries. Going from the most severe “Level 4” to the less severe “Level 3,” the CDC is using updated criteria to determine which country gets which warning. The US State Department is also expected to follow with reduced alert levels for most, if not all, of the 61 countries.

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The CDC is reducing the alert level for travel to over 60 countries. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

CDC reduces risk level for 61 countries

New ratings available on the CDC’s website show much of the world sits at a Level 3 alert. The good news for travelers is that most of the changes cover some of the most popular international tourist destinations.

For example, the following countries are at a Level 3 alert:

  • France
  • Mexico
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • South Africa
  • Canada
  • Greece
  • Peru
  • UAE

Over 60 countries worldwide are now at a Level 3 alert. A full map of the alerts as is available on the CDC website.

According to a report in Reuters, the United States Department of State is expected to revise its travel advisories covering those destinations with a reduction in risk level.

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The alert changes are positive for many travelers looking to head to Europe this year. Photo: Getty Images

What is the difference between the two levels?

The CDC categorizes Level 4 as “Very High Risk” while Level 3 countries are categorized as “High Risk.” The change in criteria sees Level 4 countries as the ones with the worst outbreaks, at 500 cases per 100,000 people. Previously, to be categorized as Level 4, a case rate of 100 per 100,000 people was required.

Under Level 4, the CDC recommends that passengers avoid traveling to these destinations, even if a passenger is fully vaccinated. However, for Level 4 countries, if travel is an urgent need, the CDC recommends being fully vaccinated (two weeks after your final dose of the vaccine) before traveling.

US CDC Reduces Travel Alerts For 61 Countries
The CDC still strongly recommends, or some destinations require, passengers to travel no sooner than 14 days after completing their vaccination. Photo: Getty Images

The CDC recommends that passengers be fully vaccinated before traveling to Level 3 destinations. It urges unvaccinated travelers to avoid nonessential travel to those destinations.

Travel restrictions still remain

Even if the State Department follows with its own reduced risk alerts for most of these countries, the travel restrictions barring foreign nationals who were physically present in China, Iran, the European Schengen Area, the UK, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, and India in the 14-day period before returning to the United States continue to remain in effect.

The CDC categorizes the US as a Level 3 country. This puts it on par with South Africa, Iran, most of the Schengen Area, and the UK. The recent improvement of cases in these geographies – especially Europe – has led airlines to lobby for a reopening.

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The CDC changes and expected State Department changes do not eliminate any of the travel restrictions currently. Photo: Getty Images

All passengers, whether they are coming from a Level 1, Level 3, or Level 4 country who are eligible for entry, need to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of departure to the United States. This restriction also remains in effect for fully vaccinated passengers.

The US has also continued its steady stream of vaccinations. According to data from the CDC, nearly 50% of all people ages 12 and older in the US have been fully vaccinated. That number is expected to continue to trend upwards as over 61% of people ages 12 and older in the US have received at least one dose.

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Many Americans are taking to the skies this summer, and plenty have travel planned to destinations the CDC recently downgraded the risk level for. Photo: Getty Images

With the summer season in full swing, airlines and industry groups are pushing both sides of the Atlantic and destinations worldwide to reopen for fully vaccinated individuals or else through a robust system of testing.

Already, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Spain, Thailand, and more have at least announced plans for reopening or reopened in the last few weeks for passengers who are fully vaccinated or else are willing to undergo extensive testing. This is on top of the various destinations in places like the Caribbean that have been open for Americans since last year.

Are you planning any international travel this year? Have you taken an international trip this year? Let us know in the comments!