US CDC eases travel recommendations on 61 countries; PH classified ‘Level 3’

David Shepardson, Reuters

Posted at Jun 09 2021 03:44 AM | Updated as of Jun 09 2021 06:19 AM

Travelers flock to Las Vegas ahead of Memorial Day weekend at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas on May 28, 2021. Bridget Bennett, Reuters

WASHINGTON—The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has eased its travel recommendations for 61 countries, including Japan from its highest Level 4 rating that had discouraged all travel to recommending travel for fully vaccinated individuals, the agency confirmed Tuesday.

The new ratings, which were not previously reported and posted on a CDC website Monday, lower 61 countries to Level 3, including France, South Africa, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Spain and Italy. A U.S. State Department official said it was in the process of revising its travel advisory to reflect the CDC changes.

The CDC said the change comes after its revised its criteria for travel health notices. The CDC said it has also revised its rating for the United States to Level 3 from Level 4.

Meanwhile, the advisory on the Philippines, categorized as Level 3, went: "make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to Philippines."

"Unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel to Philippines," it added.

"Because of the current situation in Philippines, all travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants. Travelers should follow recommendations or requirements in Philippines, including wearing a mask and staying 6 feet apart from others."

On May 24, the State Department had urged against travel to Japan, citing a new wave of coronavirus cases before the Tokyo Olympics are set to begin July 23.

The CDC said the new criteria for a Level 4 "avoid all travel" recommendation has changed from 100 cases per 100,000 to 500 cases per 100,000. The CDC added that many countries have lower ratings "because of the criteria changes or because their outbreaks are better controlled." The CDC added it expects more countries to get lower ratings.

Other countries being lowered to "Level 3" include Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Libya, Panama, Poland, Denmark and Malaysia.

Many of the countries that now have lower ratings remain on the U.S. government's list of countries subject to severe travel restrictions -- and most have been subject to the restrictions since early 2020.

The United States bars nearly all non-U.S. citizens who have been in China, the United Kingdom, Ireland, India, South Africa, Brazil, Iran and the 26 Schengen nations in Europe without border controls within the previous 14 days. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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