US Ends Blanket International Travel Warning

Filed Under: Travel

The US has lowered its international travel warning, though there aren’t many implications to this as of now.

US adjusts global travel warning

Back in March:

  • The US State Department issued a Level 4 “Do Not Travel” health advisory for all non-essential international travel
  • The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its highest Level 3 “Avoid Non-Essential Travel” warning, advising against international travel

These were blanket warnings that applied regardless of where you traveled internationally, and those have now changed — both the State Department and CDC have lifted global advisories that recommended US citizens avoid all international travel due to coronavirus, and they are now instead issuing warnings on a country-by-country basis.

US State Department moves to country-specific list

The US State Department has lifted its global travel warning, instead replacing it with country-specific warnings:

  • Around 30 countries still have Level 4 “Do Not Travel” warnings, including places like Egypt, India, and Russia
  • Dozens of countries have Level 3 “Reconsider Travel” warnings, including Australia, European Union countries, and the United Kingdom

The State Department explained this move as follows:

“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.”

The State Department still has a Level 4 warning for the European Union

CDC removes warnings for some countries

The CDC also dropped its blanket global advisory recommending against all nonessential international travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, nearly all countries remain on its highest Level 3 advisory to avoid all non-essential travel.

Only a few countries have been lowered to Level 1 advisories, including Fiji, New Zealand, and Thailand.

The CDC has lowered the warning for Thailand, but Americans aren’t allowed in

Why this is all inconsequential

While this is perhaps a step in the right direction, ultimately there aren’t many implications to this change.

For one, Americans continue to be banned from a vast majority of countries, so even without an advisory, Americans still aren’t welcome most places. There are a few exceptions (like Serbia and Turkey), but that’s it. It’s great that Americans are now only told to “reconsider travel” to Australia, but it’s not like we’re allowed there anyway.

Even beyond that, I’m not sure there has been much merit to these warnings in terms of coronavirus risk. Keep in mind these warnings are health-specific, and don’t address continually evolving entry requirements.

Prior to yesterday, Americans were advised against traveling to New Zealand (not that most Americans can get in), while they haven’t been advised not to travel to Florida or Texas. That doesn’t seem terribly logical to me…

Turkey is one of the few countries Americans can travel to without restrictions

Bottom line

Both the US Department of State and CDC have lifted blanket international travel warnings, and have replaced them with country-specific warnings.

This is ultimately inconsequential, given that Americans aren’t actually allowed in most countries, and also given that a blanket international travel warning (without any such warning for high risk domestic states) doesn’t exactly make much sense from a health perspective.

Airline stocks rose increased yesterday after this news was announced, though I’m not sure there’s all that much to get excited about here…

  1. No doubt some insurance industry lobbying at work.

    Now, insurance companies do not have to pay out trip cancellation due to government advisory if people decide to cancel.

  2. Taiwan showing the world how it’s done.

    They are (one of?) the only countries with “Exercise Normal Precaution” and “Very low risk of COVID”.

  3. Also of note: no more 14-day quarantine when returning from abroad. Which makes a lot of sense considering with a few exceptions returning from abroad means returning from a *safer* place than the US. Certainly it was a joke to have to quarantine when returning from Europe.

  4. Looking optimistically at this, it’s a good first step – even if it’s a step USA should have taken 2 months ago. Plus our infection rate as a nation is trending down. Yay

    Not planning intl travel until May though, personally, so yes, a bit inconsequential right now

  5. Just came back from a 1 week trip to Belgrade. Took Air Serbia direct from JFK in business. Good trip, cheap and I had a wonderful time. Covid is under control in Serbia and everything is back to normal except the clubs, which are still limited. I highly reccomend it for anyone looking for a quick europe getaway and can pair it with Turkey.

  6. @Lucky – In other flash news Air India Express flight en route from Dubai skids off runway while landing at Kozhikode Airport. 191 people onboard.

  7. Will this mean that people from other countries like Europe can travel to the US? Or are those still banned?

  8. @Lucky – Following up on @LGS7’s comment, the aircraft’s fuselage seems to be badly damaged with the front section completely separated off the aircraft. Reports state that the destination it was bound for was already going through a terrible time with heavy rains and a landslide. Seems terrible 🙁

  9. @Yolo Serbia does not have COVID under control. Most of the EU have banned them after a sudden spike in cases!

  10. “For one, Americans continue to be banned from a vast majority of countries, so even without an advisory, Americans still aren’t welcome most places. There are a few exceptions (like Serbia and Turkey), but that’s it.” You do know that the government in Turkey has been lying about their covid numbers, that cases there are currently spiking and there is now talk that the country will be in a lockdown within a month right? People shouldn’t be trying to travel right now.

  11. @Yolo Turkey’s government has been lying about their numbers and cases are spiking there. Serbia is seeing some spikes. Keep in mind when they tried to impose a curfew in Belgrade it resulted in violence and the government backed down, so its not a country that is making decisions based on science.

  12. @Lolo

    Need to keep up with the times. Plenty of places letting us in. Personally headed to Maldives via Dubai in 3 weeks.

  13. @Lolo

    Plenty of places welcoming Americans. Personally headed to Maldives via Dubai in 3 weeks.

  14. I’ve heard people say things like “The US isn’t doing anything against Covid”. How do people feel about this statement?

  15. Haha Serbia or Turkey being safe. I guess Americans believe anything as they assume they can go anywhere.

  16. @Fed Up. Sure the US is on its own lists. I live in TX and can not see my family in the NE. (same with 35? other States).

  17. Let’s designated like 10 countries to take in Americans (Brazilians, Indians, Mexicans can join too) and leave the rest of the world to everyone else.

  18. Doubt Americans will be welcome in the European Union until 2021 for tourism, especially with some EU countries seeing “upticks.” I also wish Americans would stop cheating by getting “work letters” to visit Europe for “work.” I have an EU passport and I haven’t been back to Europe this summer, despite it being the best time ever to travel there without hordes of Chinese and American tourists.

  19. You have been ‘advised’ against travelling to New Zealand because you’d be denied entry, period. No way/not a chance/nada. DYKWIA will be laughed at!
    I think it is hypocritical and irresponsible to say you are OK to travel since the US is in the top 3 countries where Covid-19 is still out of control. Spreading it around the world is not the answer!

  20. We arrived from the USA to Zagreb, Croatia on the 5th. Plan to stay for 2 months. Not crowded, outdoor eating, good weather. Very nice. Indoors masks are universal. Very low Covid numbers. Much different than Serbia. No trouble getting in as the 48 hour Covid test for unrestricted entry landed on our phones while transiting in AMS. Can get in with an old test but must get a new one in Zagreb and stay inside a day or two till results arrive.

  21. I’ve heard people say things like “The US isn’t doing anything against Covid”. How do people feel about this statement?
    – Matt

    I mean, it’s a true statement. I feel bad about it in the sense that I wish it wasn’t the case, but it is, and it doesn’t bode well for us.

  22. If anyone has an attention span beyond 90 seconds, read up on the 1918-20 inaccurately named Spanish Flu (should be called Kansas Flu seeing that’s where it started).
    You will see that the trajectory is almost the same as what we are experiencing now. There were even Karens then refusing to wear a mask.
    Most of the world has learnt nothing in 100 years, and goes on to repeat the same mistakes.

  23. Well, let’s hope this a first step into the direction of letting us Europeans in again, at least when travelling from a place with reasonably low infection numbers.

  24. @Happy Traveler

    Croatia does have COVID outbreaks. Italian contact tracers have recently found a lot of infected youth coming back from vacations in Croatia. Sadly, Americans and Russians may be bringing the virus back to Croatia.

  25. @David
    Although it’s true Taiwan did pretty amazing, but it’s also important to continue with all the precaution and testing. Lately, there had been reported a few cases of people traveling from Taiwan to overseas exporting the virus (example: a Thai worker who had been living for more than a year in Taiwan arrived to Thailand and tested positive, a Japanese exchange student who was studying in Taiwan for several months tested positive when returning to her country at the airport, a Belgium guy working in Taiwan who tested positive when he decided to travel overseas and needed it a proof of test result to travel… etc..) all these people were asymptomatic. Taiwan haven’t done enough testing so there is speculation that some asymptomatic or mild cases were spreading among locals. But regardless… many east Asia countries has much fewer cases and are well control.

  26. This is another example of how US Federal Government and Agencies continue to delude themselves into thinking that “There’s the USA and the Rest of the World”. They’re saying that this is where Americans can go or not go, ignoring what everyone else is doing or saying about Covid-19. At the moment, the US is viewed as one of the most infected and dangerous places on Earth by most other nations, on a par with the 3rd World & Banana Republics (or maybe worse, because it has the resources to control the virus, but won’t act.) The damage to America’s reputation and influence will ultimately be worse than the death toll. FFS, America. Get real!

  27. Who came up with these ratings? (rhetorical question)

    Putting Australia in the same level as the UK is absurd – especially looking at where the target audience is coming from!

  28. > Prior to yesterday, Americans were advised against traveling to New Zealand (not that most Americans can get in), while they haven’t been advised not to travel to Florida or Texas. That doesn’t seem terribly logical to me…

    That’s quote logical to me. These advisories come from the US State Department. The State Department handles matters concerning foreign countries. Neither Florida nor Texas are foreign countries with respect to the US (even if they may seem that way to some residents of other states). When the State Department becomes responsible for managing the relationship between Florida + Texas and the rest of the US, we can revisit this issue.

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