State Department Expands COVID-19 Travel Warning to 80% of World

Kimberly Redmond  |

Image source: Twitter @TravelGov

The US State Department said it will begin updating its travel advisories to more closely align with those from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a change that will expand the number of countries at “Level 4: Do Not Travel” to 80% of countries worldwide. 

In an announcement Monday, the department said, “This does not imply a reassessment of the current health situation in a given country, but rather reflects an adjustment in the State Department's Travel Advisory system to rely more on CDC's existing epidemiological assessments.”

The department noted that “the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose unprecedented risks to travelers” and urged Americans to reconsider all travel plans abroad.

"As always, we are closely monitoring conditions around the globe, and will regularly update our destination-specific advice to U.S. travelers as conditions evolve," the department said.

There are currently around three dozen countries with the State Department's Level 4: Do Not Travel alert, the highest of the travel advisory levels. Americans are warned against traveling to those countries for a variety of reasons, including COVID-19, crime and civil unrest.

“As travelers face ongoing risks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State will begin updating its travel advisories this week to better reflect the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s science-based Travel Health Notices that outline current issues affecting travelers’ health,'' the department said in a statement.

"Our advisories also take into account logistical factors, including in-country testing availability and current travel restrictions for US. citizens.”

Reuters noted that expanding the advisory to 80% of the world would add nearly 130 countries to the high alert category. 

The department did not reveal which countries will fall under which category. That will become known as guidance is issued individually for each country in the coming week.

The CDC, meanwhile, recommends travelers delay any domestic or international trips until fully vaccinated.  

The agency also lists over 160 global destinations under its own Level 4 designation.

Earlier this month, the CDC said people who are fully vaccinated can safely travel at low risk, but the agency’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, continues to discourage all non-essential travel due to an uptick in infections. 

Since the onset of the global pandemic last year, the US has banned most travel to and from Europe, Brazil, China and South Africa. The White House has given no timeframe for when it might ease those restrictions.

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