The U.S. Department of State announced on Monday it will issue a ‘Level 4: Do Not Travel’ advisory, its highest warning, for about 80 percent of countries.
In an official statement, the agency said the risk of COVID-19 while traveling remains too high and urged Americans to ‘reconsider all travel abroad.’
‘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 statement read.
Most countries are currently listed on the State Department website with a ‘Level 3 Reconsider Travel’ warning, the second-highest alert.
The U.S. Department of State announced on Monday it will be issuing ‘Level 4: Do Not Travel’ advisories for 80% of countries
Currently, there are 34 countries listed as Level 4 (in red), which is generally reserved for countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea and Syria
Currently, there are 33 countries listed as Level 4.
They include: Afghanistan, Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Central African Republic, Chad, Cuba, Curacao, French Guiana, French West Indies, Georgia, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Kosovo, Libya, Mali, Montenegro, Mozambique, Myanmar, North Korea, Russia, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Turkmenistan, Turks and Caicos, Venezuela, Yemen.
It is unknown which countries will be added to the list, but it is believed the list will include several nations in Asia, Central America and Europe.
According to the statement, the advisories will begin being updated this week to be in line with Travel Health Notices issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The advisories also ‘take into account logistical factors, including in-country testing availability and current travel restrictions for U.S. citizens.’
Only three countries – Macau, New Zealand and Taiwan – are currently listed as ‘Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions.’
On April 2, the CDC issued new guidelines stating that people who are fully vaccinated can travel safely within the U.S and internationally.
Travelers are considered fully vaccinated if it has been more than two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines ore after the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
However, the agency still advised against non-essential travel due to spread of the virus and not enough people vaccinated yet to reach herd immunity.
‘Every time there’s a surge in travel, we have a surge of cases in this country,’ CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky said last month.
‘We’re hopeful that our next set of guidance, will have more science around what vaccinated people can do, perhaps travel being among them.’
The CDC still requires a negative test result within the last 72 hours for people of all nationalities flying to the U.S., including Americans returning from abroad.
Those who are fully vaccinated, both U.S. citizens and foreigners, do not need to self-quarantine after arriving.
Although the CDC can make nationwide recommendations for what it deems safe, the agency cannot enforce rules.
Each U.S. state sets its own requirements when it comes to testing, quarantining or other precautions visitors need to take.
The majority of states have dropped travel restrictions for travelers but there are exceptions, including Hawaii.
It comes as more than a million people continue to pass through TSA checkpoints every day, which has been occurring since March 10.
On Sunday, 1.57 million Americans were screened by airport security, which was the highest number in more than two weeks – and higher than figures seen over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday.