The US Department of State has issued a range of new travel advisories this week as part of its ongoing commitment towards keeping Americans safe and informed when traveling around the world. The latest changes represent the State Department’s largest update of the new year so far, with 23 countries from all corners of the globe seeing their travel advisory pages updated in the past few days, adding to previous updates on January 4th.
Among the countries set to be affected by the latest changes are popular destinations for American travelers, including the likes of Canada and islands popular with cruise lines, whilst most of the updates carry to more serious Level 3 and Level 4 warnings. Here’s everything you need to know about which countries have seen their travel advisory pages updated, plus a recap of what the updates mean and how travelers are likely to be affected.
New Travel Advisories – Information For Travelers
US travel advisories are issued frequently by the State Department with the aim of keeping American travelers up to date with the issues and risks of traveling abroad, which allows them to make a judgement of whether or not to go through with their trip. Destinations are assigned levels, which range from the least severe Level 1 through to the most severe Level 4, after a range of factors have been assessed to determine the level of risk to American travelers in that destination.
Level 1 travel advisories recommend that travelers exercise normal precautions, and are usually handed to countries that are deemed to be amongst the safest for Americans to visit. With Level 2 advisories, travelers are asked to exercise increased caution, with the risks to travelers perceived to be slightly greater, but still usually not enough to deter travelers. Level 3 advisories carry a recommendation to reconsider travel due to a higher level of risk for travelers, whilst Level 4 advisories – the most severe – recommend that travelers stay away from a destination completely.
Amongst the latest round of updates were six Level 4 warnings. These were handed to Jamaica, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Curacao, Canada and Belarus. Whilst the updates to Jamaica, Curacao and Canada’s pages cited Covid-19 as the sole reason, the pages of the other Level 4 countries referenced other threats. Indonesia’s warned of terrorism and natural disasters, whilst Belarus’ pages warns of the risk of thr arbitrary enforcement of laws and detention. Ethiopia’s page tells travelers to stay away due to armed conflict, civil unrest, communications disruptions, crime, and the potential for terrorism and kidnapping in border areas.
In addition to the Level 4 updates, there were several Level 3 additions. These were:
Peru, Zimbabwe, Zambia, UAE, Singapore, Rwanda, Lesotho, El Salvador, DR Congo, Cabo Verde, Bahrain and Armenia.
Whilst Covid-19 features prominently in the reasons for the Level 3 designations, it wasn’t the only factor for some of the countries, with issues such as crime also featuring. Travelers should always ensure they read the advisory page of their destination.
Finally, some countries saw updated Level 2 travel advisories awarded. Those countries are Togo, Sao Tome and Principe, Liberia, Kuwait and Fiji. Having been designated as Level 2 countries, the State Department has deemed that the risk to travelers in these destinations is low, making them some of the safest vacation destinations for Americans to travel to at present. There were no Level 1 updates in the latest changes.
It is worth keeping in mind that travel advisories alone don’t ban travel to certain destinations, meaning that if a traveler is aware of the risks of visiting a country and decides to travel there anyway, they are more than able to do so – regardless of the travel advisory. All forms of travel carry risks, which is why all travelers are recommended to purchase strong travel insurance policies that will keep them covered in the event that something does go wrong on their trip.
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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