Changes To CDC Travel Advisories List For Week Of September 20, 2021

The Center For Disease Control (CDC) has updated its weekly list of high-risk countries.  Three countries have moved up to the very high-risk, level 4 countries.  The list of country designations continues to be a moving target with some countries moving up the list and some moving down to lower categories. 

Ending The Ban On Foreign Visitors

The blanket travel ban on foreign visitors was a source of international contention.  Back in June, Europe started reopening to Americans that were vaccinated while the United States failed to reciprocate.  The Biden Administration that this policy will end in the coming weeks with a target date of November 1, 2021.  The new policy will allow foreign visitors who are vaccinated to not only enter the United States but avoid having to quarantine.  

The White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said “Fully vaccinated foreign nationals and American citizens returning to the United States from abroad will be required to take a pre-departure Covid-19 test within three days of their flight, and show proof of a negative result before boarding. Unvaccinated Americans returning to the US will be “subject to stricter testing requirements, including a test within one day of departure and an additional test when they return.”

However, there are two things that were not known from the announcement from the White House:

  • Will the United States recognize foreign visitors vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine which is not approved in the United States?
  • What will be the policy for vaccinated adults travelling with unvaccinated children?

Here is the statement from the U. S. Travel Association:

“The U.S. Travel Association applauds the Biden administration’s announcement of a roadmap to reopen air travel to vaccinated individuals from around the world, which will help revive the American economy and protect public health.

This is a major turning point in the management of the virus and will accelerate the recovery of the millions of travel-related jobs that have been lost due to international travel restrictions.

The U.S. Travel Association expresses its deep appreciation to the President and his advisors – in particular Commerce Secretary Raimondo, who has been a tireless advocate – for working with the industry to develop a plan to restart international travel and safely reconnect America with the world.”

This may not be true for driving across the border from Canada or Mexico.  It makes no sense to me since the vaccine rate in Canada is greater than it is here.  This is a subject yet to be resolved, possibly around October 21, 2021.

Unvaccinated Americans Returning To the United States

If you are an American who is not vaccinated, returning to the United States will get more complicated.  The new travel rules will make two significant changes:

  • The testing window for return Covid testing will be reduced from three days down to one day.
  • Unvaccinated travelers will be required to test again after they return to the United States.  Where and when this test is to be performed has yet to be decided.

The rules are still in development but you can expect changes to the testing policy.  This story will be updated when the new rules are finalized.

Good News From The Netherlands

Americans who are vaccinated and traveling to The Netherlands won’t have to enter mandatory quarantine.  

Starting Sept. 22, the country will welcome travelers who have received the second dose of either the BioNTech-Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca vaccines, or who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two weeks before their trip. If a traveler received Johnson & Johnson after Aug. 14, at least 28 days must have passed before they travel.

You can find guidance for your trip to The Netherlands by clicking here.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Photo credit: pexels.com.

Update on Australia

The move to accepting a vaccine passport is moving ahead in Australia.  The initial trials will be for diplomatic travel from the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Singapore and Korea.  The hope is to reopen the border by the end of the year.  Australia needs to have an 80% vaccination rate before it can restart non-essential travel.

The passports are likely to use QR codes that are linked to the vaccination records and passport information of any inbound or outbound passengers.  The vaccines that will be recognized by Australia will be:

  • AstraZenica
  • Johnson and Johnson
  • Moderna
  • Pfizer

Moving Up To Level 4

Destinations that fall into the “Covid-19 very high” Level 4 category have had more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days, according to CDC parameters. The Level 3 category applies to destinations that have had between 100 and 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.

These countries have moved up the list to level 4 from previously lower levels.  The main reason this has happened is that the CDC has received more complete data on the actual conditions in those countries.

Here are the newest countries to move to level 4.  Many of the new level 4 countries are popular vacation destinations located in the Caribbean and offshore of the United States.  The resurgence in Covid for these destinations may be indicative of the popularity of these tropical island getaways.

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Bermuda
  • Guyana

These Countries Have Moved To Level 3

Seven countries on the list this week have either improved or were downgraded.   They are:

  • Andorra – previously level 4
  • Bonaire – previously level 2
  • Columbia – previously level 4
  • Kuwait – previously level 4
  • New Caledonia – previously level 1
  • Sao Tome and Principe – previously level 2
  • Ukraine – previously level 2

General Guidance

CDC guidance for Level 3 and Level 4 destinations urges unvaccinated travelers to avoid nonessential travel to those locations.  The CDC also recommends avoiding all international travel until you are fully vaccinated.

The Full List And Travel Advisories

The full list along with travel advisories from the CDC can be found here.  This list changes weekly so it might be a site to add to your travel bookmarks.

All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board a flight to the United States. See the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Final Thoughts

The list of countries that the CDC maintains continues to change every week as more data is known.  Some countries have improved and some have declined.  Some countries including the United States improve and then fall into a state of decline.  This CDC list and advisories are posted to help you make an educated decision on whether to travel or not. 

The next update is scheduled for September 28, 2021.

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