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CDC, State Department downgrade travel alerts for dozens of countries

A Delta Airlines plane slid off a taxiway at the Kansas City International Airport early Friday morning, Jan. 17, 2020 in Kansas City, Mo. No injuries were reported and passengers were bused to the Delta gates at Terminal B, according to an airport official. (Jill Toyoshiba/The Kansas City Star/TNS)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised travel health noticesfor dozens of countries to a lower risk tier on Monday, adjusting travel guidance for vaccinated Americans in the process.

A total of 62 destinations — including Japan, Canada, Mexico, Italy, France and Germany — dropped from “COVID-19 very high” Level 4 tier to “COVID-19 high” Level 3 tier on the CDC’s travel recommendations list, which rates the risks by country.

While the CDC had advised all travelers to avoid these destinations while they were considered “COVID-19 very high,” it now cautions travelers to make sure they are fully vaccinated before traveling to these regions. Unvaccinated travelers should still avoid nonessential travel to the Level 3 destinations, the agency said.

The changes come as vaccination rates across the U.S. continue to climb. As of Monday, 51.6% of the total U.S. population had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 42.1% were fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

What are the new CDC travel guidelines?

The CDC’s travel guidance now gives specific advice to vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.

The recent updates follow the CDC’s decision to update the criteria it uses to determine travel health notice levels “to better differentiate countries with severe outbreak situations from countries with sustained, but controlled, COVID-19 spread,” according to its website.

The update ensures that travel health notice levels “reflect the current global situation and are aligned with guidance for international travel,” which says people should not travel unless fully vaccinated, the CDC said in a Tuesday statement.

About a quarter of the 246 destinations listed in the CDC’s travel recommendations page are at Level 4, where the CDC says those who “must travel” to these destinations should make sure they are fully vaccinated. North Korea, Haiti, Nicaragua and Uzbekistan were added to this tier Monday.

According to the CDC’s website, about 64 destinations are now at Level 3.

Twenty-one are listed at Level 2, which is considered “COVID-19 moderate.” The CDC asks that travelers are fully vaccinated before traveling to these destinations, and says unvaccinated travelers who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should avoid nonessential travel to these destinations. Seventeen destinations were moved to this tier on Monday, including El Salvador, Finland and Kenya.

Another 56 are rated a Level 1, in which the CDC suggests that Americans make sure they are fully vaccinated before traveling to these destinations. Thirty-four countries were added to the tier on Monday, including Israel, Fiji and South Korea.

Another 13 destinations — including Ireland and the U.S. Virgin Islands — were handed a “level unknown” label on Monday. The CDC suggests avoiding travel to these destinations.

The State Department, which factors in the CDC’s guidance when determining its own travel advisories, updated its advice to U.S. travelers this week, as well.

But those alerts also consider other factors, including COVID-19-related travel restrictions, crime, and terrorism, so State Department alert levels may not always match the CDC’s travel health notice levels.

A Tuesday release from the State Department said it would “continue to monitor health and safety conditions around the world, working with the CDC and other agencies, as conditions evolve.”

Which countries were downgraded from Level 4 ‘very high’ to Level 3 ‘high’ COVID risk on the CDC scale?

Here’s a list of the destinations that have recently moved to Level 3, according to the CDC.

* Andorra

* Ecuador

* Armenia

* Austria

* Azerbaijan

* Bahamas

* Belarus

* Bonaire

* Bosnia and Herzegovina

* Botswana

* Peru

* Indonesia

* Bulgaria

* Japan

* Canada

* Malaysia

* Cyprus

* Philippines

* Denmark

* France

* Germany

* Greece

* Guyana

* Guadeloupe

* Guatemala

* Saint Lucia

* Honduras

* Hungary:

* Iran

* Italy

* Saint Martin

* Timor-Leste

* Jordan

* Kazakhstan

* Kosovo

* Kyrgyzstan

* Lebanon

* Libya

* Luxembourg

* Mexico

* Montenegro

* North Macedonia

* Norway

* Oman

* Panama

* Poland

* Portugal

* Puerto Rico

* Qatar

* Romania

* Russia

* Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

* Serbia

* Slovakia

* South Africa

* Spain

* Switzerland

* Tunisia

* Turkey

* Ukraine

* United Arab Emirates

* United States of America

What other countries moved tiers?

Here’s a list of the destinations that have recently moved to different tiers, according to the CDC.

* North Korea: Changing from Level Unknown to Level 4

* Haiti: Changing from Level 3 to Level 4

* Nicaragua: Changing from Level Unknown to Level 4

* Uzbekistan: Changing from Level Unknown to Level 4

* Angola: Changing from Level 3 to Level 2

* Cambodia: Changing from Level 4 to Level 2

* Barbados: Changing from Level 3 to Level 2

* Bermuda: Changing from Level 4 to Level 2

* Cameroon: Changing from Level 3 to Level 2

* Curacao: Changing from Level 4 to Level 2

* Djibouti: Changing from Level 4 to Level 3

* El Salvador: Changing from Level 3 to Level 2

* Equatorial Guinea: Changing from Level 3 To Level 2

* Faroe Islands: Changing from Level 1 to Level 2

* Finland: Changing from Level 4 to Level 2

* Gabon: Changing from Level 4 to Level 2

* Guam: Changing from Level 3 to Level 2

* Kenya: Changing from Level 4 to Level 2

* Liechtenstein: Changing from Level 4 to Level 2

* Moldova: Changing from Level 4 to Level 2

* Uganda: Changing from Level 1 to Level 2

* Albania: Changing from Level 4 to Level 1

* Anguilla: Changing from Level 2 to Level 1

* Antigua and Barbuda: Changing from Level 3 to Level 1

* Belize: Changing from Level 2 to Level 1

* Benin: Changing from Level 2 to Level 1

* Fiji: Changing from Level 2 to Level 1

* Falkland Islands: Changing from Level 2 to Level 1

* Burkina Faso: Changing from Level 3 to Level 1

* Burundi: Changing from Level 2 to Level 1

* Chad: Changing from Level 3 to Level 1

* Laos: Changing from Level 2 to Level 1

* Cote d’Ivoire: Changing from Level 3 to Level 1

* Dominica: Changing from Level 2 to Level 1

* Eswatini: Changing from Level 3 to Level 1

* South Korea: Changing from Level 2 to Level 1

* Gambia: Changing from Level 3 to Level 1

* Ghana: Changing from Level 2 to Level 1

* Iceland: Changing from Level 3 to Level 1

* Singapore: Changing from Level 2 to Level 1

* Isle of Man: Changing from Level 2 to Level 1

* Israel: Changing from Level 2 to Level 1

* Malawi: Changing from from Level 3 to Level 1

* Malta: Changing from Level 4 to Level 1

* Morocco: Changing from Level 3 to Level 1

* Mozambique: Changing from Level 3 to Level 1

* Niger: Changing from Level 4 to Level 1

* Rwanda: Changing from Level 2 to Level 1

* Saint Barthelemy: Changing from Level 4 to Level 1

* Senegal: Changing from Level 3 to Level 1

* Togo: Changing from Level 3 to Level 1

* Zambia: Changing from Level 2 to Level 1

* Zimbabwe: Changing from Level 2 to Level 1

* French Polynesia: Changing from Level 2 to Level 1

* Turks and Caicos: Changing from Level 4 to Level 1

* Afghanistan: Changing from Level 4 to Level Unknown

* Aruba: Changing from Level 4 to Level Unknown

* British Virgin Islands: Changing from Level 1 to Level Unknown

* Guernsey: Changing from Level 1 to Level Unknown

* Samoa: Changing from Level 1 to Level Unknown

* Ireland: Changing from Level 4 to Level Unknown

* Martinique: Changing from Level 4 to Level Unknown

* Mayotte: Changing from Level 4 to Level Unknown

* Monaco: Changing from Level 4 to Level Unknown

* Saba: Changing from Level 1 to Level Unknown

* U.S. Virgin Islands: Changing from Level 4 to Level Unknown

* San Marino: Changing from Level 4 to Level Unknown

* Sudan: Changing from Level 3 to Level Unknown

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