The federal agency on Monday removed 89 countries from its “Do Not Travel” list. The highest Level 4 designation will now be reserved for “special circumstances” reflecting a dangerous spike in COVID cases, a new variant or health care infrastructure collapse.
Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 classifications continue to be based on a 28-day incidence or case counts.
Countries with a “high level of COVID-19” are considered Level 3. Travelers who are not fully vaccinated are still advised to “avoid travel” to these destinations, but the warning does not apply to fully vaccinated visitors. Travelers with weakened immune systems are urged to check with doctors before visiting.
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The CDC classifies countries with “moderate” COVID-19 levels into Level 2 and “low” COVID-19 levels into Level 1. Travelers should make sure they are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines before traveling to these destinations, according to the CDC.
The agency said the new travel advisory system is meant to be “a more actionable alert” for travelers that helps them understand “when the highest level of concern is most urgent.”
The update comes less than a week after the CDC confirmed that it would extend the federal mask mandate on airplanes and other public transportation through May 3. That decision, however, was challenged Monday when a federal judge in Florida voided the mandate.
The State Department also said it would also adjust its travel advisories and will no longer automatically correlate its guidance with the CDC’s travel health notice level. However, if the CDC moves a destination to Level 4 due to COVID-19 risk, the State Department’s travel advisory for that destination will also raise to Level 4.
The update leaves about 10% of all travel advisories at Level 4. The State Department advises against travel for a number of risks, not just COVID-19.