Travel recommendations were eased for more than 110 countries and territories by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
On Monday Jun 8th, Reuters reported the CDC’s new ratings. The CDC website posted the same information. It includes 61 nations removed from the CDC’s highest “Level 4” rating. Level 4 rating discourages all travel to listed countries. The 61 nations are now on Level 2 recommending travel for fully vaccinated individuals. These details were confirmed on Tuesday by the agency.
CDC 4-level system
The information below is from the CDC website. It gives a clear breakdown on the 4-level system, and how it categorizes international destinations.
Level 4: Very high level of COVID-19. Avoid travel to this destination.
Level 3: High level of COVID-19. Fully vaccinated travelers can travel. Unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel to the listed destinations.
Level 2: Moderate level of COVID-19. Fully vaccinated travelers can travel. Unvaccinated travelers who have an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should avoid non-essential travel to these destinations. The traveler should refer to a doctor if he or she must travel to any of these destinations, if the traveler has any health concerns.
Level 1: Low level of COVID-19. Fully vaccinated travelers can travel to destinations on the list.
Listing by countries
A CDC spokeswoman said an additional 50 countries and territories are now lowered to “Level 2” or “Level 1”. Albania, Belize, Singapore, South Korea, Israel and Iceland are now the countries having the lowest ranking for COVID-19 risks.
The Philippines, Canada, France, Ecuador, Mexico, South Africa, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Hungary, Honduras, Ukraine and Italy are currently listed at “Level 3”.
Upon due review of the recent methodology data, the US State Department updates its recommendations. However, due to various factors, some ratings could not be revised. These include certain restrictions on US citizen entry and commercial flight availability. The delays in obtaining COVID test results within three calendar days was another factor.
Japan and the Summer Olympics
Another 85 countries and territories, including Japan, had their ratings eased by the US State Department.
The State Department discouraged all travel to Japan on May 24th. Japan is working hard to control a new wave of coronavirus infections. The Tokyo Olympics will start on Jul 23rd.
The US State Department’s warning raised concerns by various parties. The concern prompted the White House to reaffirm its support on two important issues. The first is support for competing US athletes, and the second is for Tokyo’s plans to hold the Summer Olympics. This is in spite of a low vaccination rate in Japan, and the new wave of infections.
The Games organizers need to arrive at a decision by this month on domestic spectators. There is already a ban that disallows all foreign spectators to attend the Games.
The change followed soon after the CDC made a revision on its criteria for travel health notices. The CDC said it also revised its rating for the United States to “Level 3” from “Level 4”.
The new criteria for a Level 4 status is an “avoid all travel” recommendation. This has changed to 500 cases per 100,000 from 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 according to the agency.
Many countries now have lower ratings with the criteria changes and better control of outbreaks, says the agency. There are expectations for lower and more favourable travel ratings by the CDC for more countries.
Other countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Honduras, Jordan, Libya, Panama, Poland and Denmark have their status lowered to “Level 3” now.
Many of the countries that remain on the US government’s list now have lower ratings. However, the US government continues to place severe travel restrictions on these countries. These countries have US travel restrictions in place since the beginning of 2020.
Exemptions for certain countries
A ruling now bans nearly all non-US citizens coming from Level 4 countries within the previous 14 days from entering the US. The ban covers China, the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, Brazil, India, Iran and the 26 Schengen nations in Europe without border controls. The Schengen is a border-free zone consisting of 26 neighbouring European countries.
There were questions to the CDC on the basis of the restrictions. Some countries having low infection rates are subject to restrictions. Other countries are exempt despite having high infection rates. On Tuesday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky explained that the issue relates to an interagency conversation. Walensky said the agency will now study real-time data to determine how it should move forward.
On Tuesday, a White House official told Reuters the Biden administration is forming expert working groups with certain regions. These regions are Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union. The working groups will determine how best to restart travel safely after 15 months of pandemic restrictions.
9th June 2021 23:00
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