The US Department of State has been busy this month, as it has updated the travel advisories of several more countries around the world. The timely safety updates provide travelers with clear information about potential health and safety threats that they may run into on their trips, and have long since been an important starting point for research for many travelers when it comes to planning an international vacation.
Amongst those implicated in the latest round of updates were two countries that have eyes on opening up their borders to the masses in the coming weeks, who may now find themselves welcoming fewer international travelers than they might have expected as a result. Here’s a look at the latest travel advisory updates to come out of the State Department, plus a reminder of what they mean and the impact they could have on international travel.
Travel Advisories – Information For Travelers
Travel advisories are issued by the State Department, who assign each country with a threat warning level. Countries judged to pose little threat to a traveler’s safety are handed Level 1 warnings – which ask travelers to exercise normal precautions, whilst those which offer serious threats are given Level 4 travel advisories, which explicitly warn travelers “do not travel.” The most recent travel advisory updates saw Level 2, 3 and 4 updates handed out to different countries.
A range of different issues are weighed up before a country is prescribed a warning level by the State Department. These issues cover a wide range of factors, such as crime, terrorism, civil unrest, health issues and natural disasters. More recently, Covid-19 has played a major part in a country’s travel advisory warning level, though it is far from the only thing that Americans have to worry about when traveling abroad.
The most recent round of updates, published on February 22nd, saw nine countries receive updated warning levels. Those countries are:
Level 4: Malaysia, Iran, Bhutan
Level 3: Timor-Leste, Nigeria, New Zealand, Namibia, Brunei
Level 2: Kenya
Prior to this update, the most recent updates came on the 16th and 17 of February, and saw the likes of Tajikistan, Liberia and Sierra Leone receive updates, with February 14th also seeing several countries receive travel advisory updates too.
Malaysia’s Level 4 travel advisory is bound to hurt the country’s hopes of tourism in the coming weeks. The country has planned to reopen its borders to foreign travelers from March, but the warning level could deter travelers from making the trip. Malaysia’s travel advisory lists Covid-19 as the sole concern for travelers. The country is experiencing a significant spike in the number of cases, reporting around 27,000 per day on average.
New Zealand too has plans to reopen its borders soon. The country recently revealed its plans for a staggered reopening that will see travelers from around the world able to enter from April 30th. The country’s Level 3 travel advisory, which lists Covid-19 as the only health concern in the country, asks prospective travelers to reconsider travel to the country.
Whilst travel advisories provide important information to travelers, it is worth keeping in mind that they are only advisory in nature, and can’t legally prevent a traveler from heading to a destination. Travelers are free to decide where they wish to travel to, but travel advisories should play a key role in helping them decide whether or not it is worth doing so.
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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