CDC marks more European countries as high-risk destinations for COVID-19

Photo (c) da-kuk - Getty Images

Travelers need to be aware that the pre-departure testing window has shrunk

If you’re planning to go to Europe anytime soon, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that you give your trip a second thought. Due to the spike in the number of cases of COVID-19, the agency has added France, Portugal, Jordan, Cyprus, Andorra, Jordan, Liechtenstein to its list of “Level 4 - Very High” countries

Those countries join Greece, Norway, Austria, Belgium, Poland, Switzerland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark, which were already at Level 4. The CDC uses several benchmarks when qualifying a destination for a certain level of risk. Larger countries such as these ones qualify as Level 4 when they report more than 500 new cases per 100,000 people over a period of 28 days.

If someone feels that they have to travel to a "Level 4" destination, the CDC says they should be fully vaccinated before they travel.

​​Any U.S. citizen traveling abroad should also be aware that the U.S. government has tightened testing requirements as a result of the coronavirus spike overseas and the continuing spread of the Omicron variant, which was recently termed a “variant of concern” by President Biden in his announcement of new actions to protect Americans.

An important change to testing requirements

In Biden’s announcement, he said the U.S. would tighten the pre-departure testing window for entry to the U.S. from three days for vaccinated travelers to one day – regardless of nationality or vaccination status.

That’s the plan for the immediate future, but the CDC said it may “adjust the scope of accepted pre-departure testing requirements to allow passengers and airline and aircraft operators greater flexibility regarding the requirements.”

“We hope this measure to narrow the pre-departure testing window will be temporary until more is learned about the Omicron variant. In the meantime, the travel industry urges everyone to get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible,” Tori Emerson Barnes, U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy, said in an email to ConsumerAffairs.

“It has long been known that measures to combat the virus and its variants would evolve and require us to be nimble and adapt. It is critically important that we communicate these policy changes clearly to global travelers and continue to welcome all qualified visitors to the United States.”

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