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The CDC's new travel advice upgrades 33 nations but keeps the UK at Level 3

June 09, 2021
3 min read
The CDC's new travel advice upgrades 33 nations but keeps the UK at Level 3
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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just issued newly updated travel advice for more than 120 countries. The headline? It's great news for people who wanted to visit Iceland, Israel and Singapore, good news if you planned on going to Japan and not-so-great news if you had plans to travel to the U.K.

The new advisory pushed 33 countries to the lowest-risk category, Level 1. That includes the aforementioned trio of nations, as well as popular Caribbean destinations Anguilla and Barbuda, Belize and the Cayman Islands, Australia, New Zealand, China and Hong Kong.

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Among the countries upgraded from the highest-risk category, Level 4, to Level 3 were: Japan, France, South Africa, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Spain and Italy. Level 3 is still considered "high" risk, and the CDC still recommends against non-essential travel for unvaccinated people, but the risk is lower for those who are fully vaccinated. Getting upgraded to Level 3 is encouraging for Japan that its COVID-19 situation may be improving as the Summer Olympics are set to begin on July 23, though foreigners aren't expected to be allowed to attend.

The U.K. remained at Level 3, which does not bode well for the U.S.-U.K. travel corridor that travel officials on both sides of the Atlantic are pushing for. Most travelers from America have to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in the U.K., as it's still an amber list country. And most Brits can't travel to the U.S. due to wide-ranging restrictions against non-essential travel that have been in place for more than a year. The beleaguered travel industry says the continued rise in vaccination rates indicates it's time to lift restrictions.

"These are the poster children of good vaccination programs,'' John Holland-Kaye, CEO of London's Heathrow Airport, told USA Today. "There needs to be a prize for that.''

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The CDC recommends avoiding travel to countries at Level 4, the highest-threat level. Countries in that category have more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the last 28 days. Level 4 countries include nations such as Argentina, Belgium Brazil and India.

The CDC's threat levels are determined by the number of COVID-19 cases in a given country. The CDC recommends getting vaccinated before visiting any country at any level, but its guidance for unvaccinated travelers varies by how severe the pandemic is in each particular nation.

Level 1 countries like Australia and New Zealand are considered the lowest-risk destinations because they have reported less than 50 COVID-19 cases in the last 28 days. The CDC still recommends getting vaccinated before traveling to any location at Level 1.

After the CDC released its guidance, the State Department revised its travel advisories and removed 58 countries from its "Do Not Travel" list. Countries upgraded to Level 3 include Japan, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Switzerland, Canada and Mexico.

The State Department's move comes six weeks after it warned Americans to avoid traveling to about 80% of the world's countries due to COVID-19. Travel guidance from the State Department isn't always 100% in sync with the CDC, as it takes into account other factors aside from health-related risks.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

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  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
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  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
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  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
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