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CDC updates travel advice for over 120 countries

There are still lots of places that travelers are advised to stay away from

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Photo (c) Anton Petrus - Getty Images
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its international travel advisory. As vaccination numbers grow and the spread of COVID-19 becomes better contained, travelers now have access to more countries that they were advised not to visit just a week ago.

Overall, the CDC’s revised list includes new travel advice for more than 120 countries, moving 33 countries where the pandemic is "sustained, but controlled” into the lowest risk category. Those nations include Israel, where there’s a 99.2% recovery rate; Iceland, where there are only 52 current COVID-19 cases; and Singapore, which recently reported only four new cases. 

Other frequently visited international destinations at Level 1 include Vietnam, New Zealand, Australia, China, and Caribbean countries like the Cayman Islands and Belize.

Countries the CDC says travelers should avoid

Even though the CDC may have updated its travel advice for more than 120 countries, that does not mean that there are now 120 additional places travelers can visit. Things are a little more complicated than that.

There are still 85 Level 2 and Level 3 countries, which the CDC says travelers should be fully vaccinated before visiting. That includes many tourist destinations in Europe like France, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland. At the top of the pecking order on the CDC’s warning list -- Level 4 -- there are 61 countries that the agency says travelers should avoid altogether. However, it leaves the final determination to the traveler. 

“If you must travel to these destinations, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel,” the CDC warns.

Tourist favorites at Level 4 include The Netherlands, Sweden, Jamaica, Egypt, and the Czech Republic, as well as many South American countries such as Brazil, Colombia, and Chile.

Countries where its citizens aren’t permitted to come to the U.S.

The CDC notes in its advisory that there are still citizens of other countries that are currently prohibited from entering the U.S. because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With some exceptions or presidential proclamations, immigrants or nonimmigrants who were physically present in eight areas/countries within a 14-day period of trying to enter the U.S. will not be allowed entry. 

Those areas include China, the U.K. (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland), Brazil, India, Iran, and European nations that are a part of the European Schengen area. Countries found in that last area include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

The U.S. vs. U.K. stand-off

Particularly troubling to airline executives is that the U.S. and U.K. appear to be having a stand-off about allowing each other’s citizens to visit. Just as the CDC has visitors from the U.K. on its prohibited list, the U.K. has visitors from the U.S. on its Amber list. That leaves a lot of empty seats that airlines would like to fill. 

Before the pandemic, the number of visitors to the U.S. from the U.K. was around 4.75 million, and an estimated 4.6 million Americans visited the U.K. in 2019.

"As we see people reclaiming their lives and reconnecting with loved ones, it’s clear that the infection rates of our countries indicate an extraordinarily low risk to travel between the US the UK, provided travelers are vaccinated or can produce a negative PCR test prior to boarding a flight,” Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, said at an airline summit at London Heathrow on Monday. “Our modeling studies conducted with Mayo Clinic put the risk of transmission on a plane traveling between the UK and US at 1 in 1 million.”

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