Most of the world’s countries added to State Department’s ‘do not travel’ advisory

Apr 22, 2021

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The U.S. State Department this week added approximately 80% of the world’s countries to its highest advisory — Level 4: Do Not Travel — according to an update on the agency’s website.

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The update “reflects an adjustment in our system to give more weight to [the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s] existing assessments,” the State Department wrote. However, the agency noted that the update doesn’t “necessarily indicate a change to the current health situation” in a given country.

“We updated the COVID-19 framework used to assign COVID-19 Travel Advisory levels to be based primarily on [the] CDC’s science-based data points,” the State Department said on its website.

The CDC also has its own travel advisory system, with more than 100 countries on its Level 4: COVID-19 Very High list.

Some notable countries not on the department’s highest advisory include Iceland, which is at Level 3, and Belize, Rwanda and Thailand, all at Level 2.

Several of the countries popular with Americans, such as Brazil, Mexico, the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, have been on the State Department’s highest advisory for months.

“We also consider the strategies other countries have put in place to respond to the pandemic, including restrictions on U.S. citizen entry,” the State Department said. “In those situations, our Travel Advisory would advise U.S. citizens ‘Do Not Travel’ to avoid becoming stranded overseas.”

The State Department says it still recommends U.S. citizens reconsider traveling abroad, which differs from what the CDC has publicly said about travel. The CDC in early April announced that fully vaccinated Americans can travel at “low-risk” to themselves.

“With millions of Americans getting vaccinated every day, it is important to update the public on the latest science about what fully vaccinated people can do safely, now including guidance on safe travel,” said CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky earlier this month.

“We continue to encourage every American to get vaccinated as soon as it’s their turn, so we can begin to safely take steps back to our everyday lives. Vaccines can help us return to the things we love about life, so we encourage every American to get vaccinated as soon as they have the opportunity.”

But the CDC has also offered conflicting travel guidance. Walensky issued a stark warning in late March, warning Americans to “please limit travel,” and said that travel is helping to spread the coronavirus.

And, despite the new guidance, she again reiterated during a briefing earlier this month that the “CDC is not recommending travel at this time due to the rising number of cases.”

Featured photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

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