Destinations level 4 and above

Europe is hit by a fierce wave of a pandemic, forcing a number of countries to reimpose restrictions to help reduce infection rates. Denmark and in particular Germany are among the latest countries to record a high number of cases over the past week, with the German government in talks to consider a nationwide lockdown to deal with the crisis.

The advisories are meant to educate U.S. residents about the risks associated with overseas travel, so people can make more informed travel decisions and enjoy relatively safe travel. If you’re planning to travel soon, here’s what you need to know about the latest travel guidelines.

Canada is at level 3 © Damion Rae Photography / 500px

What is a travel advisory?

The ongoing risks associated with COVID-19, especially as new variants emerge, present challenges and uncertainties for travel. To make the experience a little less confusing, the State Department aligned its security travel advice with science-based CDC Travel health notice to warn travelers of the dangers and threats of COVID-19 abroad.

Level 4 travel advisory

Level 4 is the highest alert. Countries that register more than 500 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 28 days per 100,000 population are on the CDC’s level 4 list. Under CDC guidelines, people are advised to “avoid travel” to Level 4 destinations, but if they must travel, they must be fully immunized.

The State Department takes this information into account, also examining factors such as political instability, natural disasters, and the threat of terrorism or violent crime. “[Level 4] is the highest advisory level due to a greater likelihood of fatal risks, ”the department explains. In the context of COVID-19, Americans are urged to avoid visiting these places due to increasing rates of infection and COVID-19 variants.

Which countries are at level 4?

Germany

The number of cases has increased in Germany among the unvaccinated and the elderly whose immunity has started to decline. Authorities restrict movement of unvaccinated people, but according to Reuters, the government could reintroduce a national lockdown in the coming days. Some of the popular Christmas markets that appear every winter have already been canceled. Borders are open in Germany and Americans are allowed to travel there if vaccinated, according to Germany’s entry rules.

Denmark

Denmark is now facing a third wave of the pandemic and has reintroduced its ‘corona pass’ which requires individuals to show proof of vaccination before entering many public spaces. Denmark has a relatively high vaccination rate and so far festive traditions such as the Tivoli Christmas market in Copenhagen continue.

Other Tier 4 destinations include Ireland, UK, Cuba, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Switzerland, Turkey, Barbados, Belize, French Polynesia, Greece, Costa Rica and more.

    View of Whitehall packed with tourists and commuters at sunset
The UK remains a “high risk” destination © Albert Pego / Shutterstock

Level 3 advice

The CDC advises unvaccinated Americans to avoid non-essential travel to Level 3 destinations, where risks associated with COVID-19 remain high. Some popular destinations designated at level 3 include Italy, Cyprus, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Colombia, Egypt, Aruba, Sweden, Mexico, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, Australia and, more recently, Israel, Thailand, Panama, Portugal, Spain and Brazil.

Level 2 advice

Level 2 spaces are considered “COVID-19 moderate” destinations by the CDC. When going to these places, people are asked to “practice enhanced precautions”. The CDC is also urging unvaccinated people who are at increased risk of serious illness from COVID-19 to avoid non-essential travel to Tier 2 destinations. Some countries currently at Tier 2 include New Zealand, Peru, South Korea, India, Zimbabwe and Nepal.

Level 1 advice

A solo passenger flight has been canceled.  She is standing in front of the departures panel.  She wears a protective mask
Travel advisories are meant to help people make more informed travel decisions © Getty Images

Should I cancel my trip to a level 4 country?

The answer is up to you. Travel advisories are guidelines, not rules. You are still allowed to go to these places, but if you choose to go to a country that the government advises you to avoid, you do so at your own risk. In some extreme cases, that is, countries where there is civil unrest, widespread violence and political instability, the ministry warns that certain consular services may not be available to you and advises travelers to ” always have a contingency plan for emergencies ”.

If I am traveling, do I have to quarantine myself?

It depends on your destination. These travel advisories and travel health advisories are established by the US government and the CDC, not by the governments of individual countries. For example, Ireland is at level 4 but the Irish government allows Americans to go there.

Will my travel insurance cover me in a level 4 country?

How often do these opinions change?

The State Department confirms that it reviews and updates travel advisories “as needed, based on safety and security information.”

How to resist the urge to travel during the coronavirus pandemic

Anyone planning to go abroad should read the entire travel notice for their destination at Travel.State.gov; in addition to border restrictions and destination entry requirements, and stay current with local public health guidelines.

This article was first published on August 6, 2020 and updated on November 23, 2021

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