Despite being very much still a present and dangerous threat, the fall in cases of Covid-19 globally, the easing of restrictions by several countries and the progress of the vaccination campaigns around the world suggest that the battle against Covid-19 is being won.
With the situation continuing to improve, the US has dropped travel advisory levels for dozens of countries – including Canada and Mexico – following a change in methodology by the CDC. Here’s a look at which countries it affects, what it means for travelers and why the changes have been made.
Travel Advisory Changes – Information for Travelers
Both Canada and Mexico have seen their US State Department travel advisory level drop from the most severe level – Level 4 – down to Level 3. Canada’s advisory page warns travelers to reconsider travel due to Covid-19, whilst Mexico’s page asks travelers to reconsider travel due to Covid-19, and to exercise increased caution in Mexico due to crime and kidnapping.
Both countries have achieved significant falls in their Covid-19 numbers over the past few months, with Canada’s average number of daily cases now at around 1,600, whilst Mexico’s average is around 2,500. Canada’s low figures have recently seen the country plan to remove some travel restrictions for its vaccinated citizens.
As well as Mexico and Canada, dozens of other countries have also seen their advisory levels fall. The likes of Japan, Italy, France and Germany have also moved from Level 4 to Level 3, whilst Finland and Barbados fell to Level 2 and Singapore, South Korea and Malta reached Level 1 – the lowest possible travel advisory level.
Not only will the changes go some way in restoring the confidence of travelers, but they could also have a sizeable impact on the travel options available for travelers. Travel advisories are often reciprocated by nations, and are often used by airlines to set their own restrictions – which opens the possibility for more frequent and less restricted flights going forward. The raft of new updates and changes follows a change in methodology used by the CDC to classify the Covid-19 threat level in each country.
CDC Methodology Updated – What Travelers Should Know
The CDC issues its Travel Health Notices (THNs) to alert travelers to the different health risks present in any given country, as well as advising them on how they can better protect themselves. The system underwent several changes in November 2020, as its 3-level notice system became a 4-level notice system – and on June 7th, it changed once more.
The criteria used to determine the THN levels have been updated to better differentiate countries with severe outbreak situations from countries that have sustained – but controlled – spread of Covid-19. According to the CDC website, the update “gives specific travel advice for vaccinated and unvaccinated people according to the THN level, ensuring THN levels reflect the current global situation and are aligned with guidance for international travel”.
Here are the primary criteria that determine the THN level for each destination, along with the recommendation for each level:
- Level 1 – fewer than 50 new cases over the past 28 days per 100,000 population – ensure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to this destination
- Level 2 – 50-99 new cases over the past 28 days per 100,000 population – Make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel, whilst unvaccinated travelers who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should avoid nonessential travel to this destination. If you must travel and have concerns, talk to your doctor
- Level 3 – new cases over the past 28 days per 100,000 population – Make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel, whilst unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel to this destination
- Level 4 – more than 500 new cases over the past 28 days per 100,000 population – avoid travel to this destination
As is evident from the above, the CDC strongly recommends that all travelers are vaccinated prior to traveling to any international destination. The secondary criteria that determines the level of travel is based on Covid-19 testing data, taking into account the test-to-case ratio in each destination – more information about this can be found here.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories