During the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) implemented Travel Health Notices, a four-level advisory system that evaluated that COVID-19 risk in countries. This system ranked travel safety to destinations based strictly on COVID case counts within countries.
The CDC just announced a big change to this warning level system, specifically to how it places countries in the highest advisory level—Level 4: Do Not Travel. The CDC now says, “Level 4 will no longer be based on COVID-19 incidence or case count alone. It will be reserved for special circumstances, such as rapidly escalating case trajectory or extremely high case counts, emergence of a new variant of concern, and healthcare infrastructure collapse.”
Levels 1-3 will still mainly be determined by case counts. If a destination is ranked as Level 4, the CDC recommends that travelers do not visit the destination. However, if you do travel to a Level 4 country, the CDC advises “make sure you are up to date with your COVID vaccines before your trip.”
Under the new system, there are currently no countries categorized as Level 4: Do Not Travel. (Last week there were 89 countries in Level 4.)
The change is designed to “help the public understand when the highest level of concern is most urgent,” according to a statement from the CDC. “With this new configuration, travelers will have a more actionable alert for when they should not travel to a certain destination (Level 4), regardless of vaccination status, until we have a clearer understanding of the COVID-19 situation at that destination,” says the agency.
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