The U.S. State Department has lifted a blanket ‘Do Not Travel’ advisory which was first introduced on March 19 in response to the rapidly developing COVID-19 pandemic. Now, rather than telling Americans to avoid travel anywhere in the world, the State Department will return to country-specific guidance that acknowledges that health and safety conditions are improving in many countries while “potentially deteriorating in others.”
Assistant Secretary Carl Risch, told reporters at a press briefing on Thursday that a “significant number” of countries had been moved from the highest Level 4 alert to Level 3 which urges American citizens to reconsider travel. A much smaller number of countries are classed as Level 2 which calls for increased caution, and only two countries have received a Level 1 ‘exercise normal precautions’ advisory.
The State Department said the decision to revert back to country-specific guidance and in many cases, lower the level of risk was taken in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC has also removed it’s Level 3 global COVID-19 pandemic alert.
Unfortunately, just because American’s have now been given the green light to travel internationally, it doesn’t mean they’ll be able to. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, governments have been quick to impose border restrictions and with Coronavirus cases still surging in some U.S. states, American citizens remain banned from many countries.
And nor does it mean that travel bans will be eased for foreign citizens to visit the United States. At yesterday’s press briefing, the State Department made it clear that they didn’t know when the Trump administration might lift a presidential proclamation that banned visitors from Europe, the UK and China.
The chief executives of several major airlines, including American and United in the U.S. and Lufthansa and British Airways in Europe have pleaded with officials to reopen transatlantic air travel. They have called for mass COVID-19 testing at airports but so far, there’s been no indication of when travel bans might be lifted despite President Trump’s eagerness to reopen the economy.
In response to one question, Deputy assistant secretary for overseas travel, Karin King told reporters “there was no pressure” from the White House to change travel advice.
China, which has managed to successfully contain the novel Coronavirus remains at Level 4, due to quarantine restrictions and New Zealand, which has pretty much eradicated the virus is classified at Level 2.