WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- More than 110 countries and territories have received a more favorable travel rating from the CDC, allowing travel for fully vaccinated individuals.
- The agency changed the Level 4 “avoid all travel” criteria from 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 to 500 cases per 100,000.
- This criteria change, along with countries having better outbreak control, led to many countries receiving a lower, more favorable rating.
Travel restrictions for over 110 countries and territories have been relaxed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The decision includes Olympics host Japan.
The CDC explained that the criteria for a Level 4 “avoid all travel” advisory changed from 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 to 500 cases per 100,000.
Because of its new criteria, many countries, in which “outbreaks are better controlled,” received lower, more favorable travel ratings.
The CDC website listed 61 nations that were lowered from a Level 4 rating that banned all travel to one that allowed travel for fully vaccinated individuals.
The CDC’s rating for the United States has been lowered from Level 4 to Level 3.
Other countries now listed at Level 3 include Canada, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Honduras, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Jordan, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and Ukraine.
An agency spokeswoman added that 50 countries and territories have been lowered to Level 2 or Level 1. Countries with the lowest travel risk include Albania, Belize, Iceland, Israel, Singapore, and South Korea.
The U.S. State Department is also revising its travel advisory to reflect the CDC changes. It has since lowered its ratings for more than 90 countries and territories, including Japan.
The State Department had previously warned against traveling to Japan due to a new wave of coronavirus cases and a low vaccination rate.
Still, the White House reaffirmed its support for continuing the Olympic Games, which start on July 23, to allow the U.S. team to compete.
The host country has since banned foreign spectators but is still yet to decide on allowing domestic spectators.
The U.S. still maintains its ban on almost all non-U.S. citizens who have traveled within the previous 14 days to Brazil, China, India, Iran, Ireland, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and the 26 Schengen nations in Europe with no border controls.
Several countries are still subject to the severe travel restrictions placed since early 2020, even with lowered ratings. CDC Director Rochelle Wallensky said on Tuesday that the warnings are subject to “an interagency conversation” and “real-time” data.
There are still ongoing talks with Canada and Mexico — which both had more favorable travel ratings — on eventually easing restrictions at land borders.