U.S. State Department Lifts global Health Advisory Against International Travel — What to Know
The U.S. State Department has lifted its Level 4 Global Health Advisory against international travel.
The agency, in agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will go back to determining its advisory levels on a country-by-country basis, they announced on Thursday — the method used before the coronavirus pandemic.
'With health and safety conditions improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others, the Department is returning to our previous system of country-specific levels of travel advice (with Levels from 1-4 depending on country-specific conditions), in order to give travelers detailed and actionable information to make informed travel decisions,' the agency said in a statement. 'This will also provide U.S. citizens more detailed information about the current status in each country.'
The Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory put into effect in March advised 'U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19' and urged Americans 'in countries where commercial departure options remain available' to 'arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.'
As commercial flight options disappeared and borders were shuttered to combat the spread of the virus, the department undertook an unprecedented repatriation effort to get Americans back home. Between January 27 and June 10, they coordinated the repatriation of 101,386 Americans on 1,140 flights from 136 countries and territories.
Countries throughout Europe and Asia also placed their citizens under similar travel advisories and quarantines throughout the spring of 2020 to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Internal border restrictions in Europe began to be lifted in June.
The international travel industry has taken a huge hit by the spread of the virus. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced last week that global air travel won't recover from the pandemic until 2024.
'We continue to recommend U.S. citizens exercise caution when traveling abroad due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic,' they added.
Those looking to travel can consult the State Department's travel advisory search tool to determine which specific countries are deemed safe to visit. It's worth noting that while the State Department and CDC have lifted their overall advisory, Americans are only allowed to visit a handful of countries right now.
As the number of coronavirus cases has begun to decreased in some destinations, attractions including Disney theme parks and iconic monuments like the Eiffel Tower have welcomed back visitors. Airlines around the world have also implemented health and safety protocols in the wake of COVID-19.
As always, we will regularly update our destination-specific advice to U.S. travelers as conditions evolve.