U.S. Travel Advisory Lifted

The State Department lifted guidelines on Aug. 7 that created a blanket ‘Do Not Travel’ advisory worldwide, moving back to a case-by-case strategy for restrictions.

“With health and safety conditions improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others, the Department is returning to our previous system of country-specific levels of travel advice,” the State Department said in a statement last week. “We continue to recommend U.S. citizens exercise caution when traveling abroad due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic.”

The unprecedented international travel advisory had been in place since mid-March. The State Department urged overseas U.S. citizens to return home or shelter in place.

The CDC website still recommends that travelers avoid nonessential travel, and “travelers at increased risk for severe illness should consider postponing all travel, including essential travel, to high-risk destinations.”

According to the website, air travel can increase your risk of getting coronavirus because of the difficulty of social distancing in airports and airplanes.

Many countries, including the entire E.U., China, Japan, and New Zealand, have entirely banned U.S. travel. Others, like Canada, only allow travel if it is considered essential.

According to reporting from the New York Times, legal and illegal U.S. travelers alike may be subject to harassment or intimidation, with some in Canada damaging vehicles with U.S. license plates.

Of the countries and territories that are still accepting nonessential U.S. travelers, only one, French Polynesia, has a Level Two warning (Exercise Increased Caution). All others hold a Level Three (Reconsider Travel) or a Level Four (Do Not Travel) recommendation.

16 countries, along with Aruba, French Polynesia, St. Barts, and Turks and Caicos currently allow Americans to enter. Belize plans to open back up on Aug. 15, St. Maarten in late August, and the Cayman Islands on Sept. 1. However, the changes are contingent upon future coronavirus developments in both the U.S. and recipient countries.

Most of the countries accepting U.S. travel (list here) require a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter, while two (U.K. and Ireland) require a two-week self-quarantine upon arrival. Ecuador requires both.

Even some U.S. states have implemented a two-week quarantine if travelers are from a state that has been hard hit by COVID. Many are only voluntary, but several states and D.C. have strictly enforced mandatory quarantines.

Although the State Department travel advisories are ultimately non-enforceable, they can have significant consequences on travel insurance and the locations travel companies choose to offer services.

Consider contacting the U.S. Embassy and your airline of choice before purchasing outbound tickets and enrolling in the State Department’s STEP program.

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