The US State Department has issued 18 new travel advisories for December. The updates come just as more Americans will be thinking about traveling once more for the busy festive travel season in just a few weeks, coming off the back of what was a travel-packed Thanksgiving holiday period. The latest updates feature countries all over the world, including several travel destinations in the Caribbean that are usually popular with American travelers.
Thankfully, travelers will be relieved to know it’s not all doom and gloom. Whilst the latest updates saw several countries given the more severe Level 3 and 4 travel advisory warnings, there was also a handful of Level 1 and Level 2 warnings as well. Here’s a look at the latest travel updates and what they mean for travelers.
New December Travel Advisories – What Travelers Should Know
Created to ensure that travelers are aware of the potential threats they could face abroad, the US travel advisory warning system has four distinct levels based on the level of threats a country may have. Several different sources of information, from US intelligence to crime statistics, are used when determining what warning level a country should have. They are constantly reassessed and updated to ensure that both the correct information is being conveyed to travelers, and that a country has an appropriate warning level.
Level 1 is the lowest level a country can be assigned, and travelers are asked to exercise normal precautions in these countries. Level 2 warnings ask travelers to exercise increased caution, whilst those heading to a Level 3 country are asked to reconsider travel. Destinations that are given a Level 4 travel advisory warning level are deemed to be the most dangerous destinations for travelers, with travelers explicitly warned not to travel to those destinations.
The two most recent updates were posted on November 30th and December 1st. The updates saw six countries handed a Level 4 travel warning – Morocco, Trinidad and Tobago, Timor-Leste, Poland, Papua New Guinea and Niger. Each of these countries’ advisory pages lists Covid-19 as a major factor in their Level 4 warning – but it’s not the sole factor. Only Poland’s page lists Covid-19 as the sole threat, with other issues such as crime and terrorism listed amongst the other Level 4 countries.
There were also a wide range of countries designated as Level 3 countries. Saint Lucia, Guyana, Guinea-Bissau, French Polynesia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Costa Rica and Bermuda all officially have a Level 3 warning, whilst Djibouti, Benin and Argentina were classified as less-severe Level 2 countries. The British Virgin Islands and Senegal were each handed a Level 1 warning level, meaning they are considered to be amongst the safest destinations to visit at present.
Prior to the most recent updates, on November 27th, 8 African countries were given Level 4 warnings. Those countries were Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho, Eswatini and Botswana. These countries were recently handed an entry ban by the US and several other countries after cases of the latest Covid-19 variant were found there.
Whilst the travel advisory warnings are strongly worded, they are only advisories, and not law. Travelers can still visit Level 4 countries should they wish to do so. Before traveling to a country, travelers should read the travel advisory pages of a destination to familiarize themselves with any potential issues they might face, and they should ensure they have a strong health insurance policy to protect them in the event that the worst should happen.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com