Even though more than 40% of the U.S. population has received at least one COVID-19 vaccination, spikes in the pandemic continue to flare up around the globe. Things are so dire worldwide, in fact, that even though we are more than a year into the pandemic, the U.S. State Department has issued more than 115 do-not-travel advisories in the last seven days alone.
Bill Chappell of NPR has reported that “the U.S. State Department has vastly expanded its ‘Do Not Travel list,’ issuing new Level 4 advisories for more than 115 countries and territories this week” due to the ongoing risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Chappell, only 33 countries were on the list just a week ago — and now warnings are in place for roughly 80% of the globe.
The list of countries on the Level 4 advisory list (the highest level that the list goes) include locations that have been struggling with COVID-19 for many months, including Brazil, Russia and India, along with a number of recent new additions such as Canada, Mexico, Germany, the U.K., and almost all of Europe.
China, Australia, Iceland and Japan have been categorized as Level 3 — locations that are slightly safer but still experiencing a worrying rise in new coronavirus cases.
In total, more than 150 of the highest-level travel advisories are in effect — warnings that also account for travel safety guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Based on State Department guidelines, the safest travel option on the planet is Bhutan, a tiny Buddhist kingdom located on the eastern edge of the Himalayas in South Asia. The U.S. State Department said Bhutan’s relative remoteness and rural mountain environment have, so far, helped drastically limit the spread of the virus.
While not all countries part of the travel advisory ban have surging levels of COVID-19, the government agency also notes that other factors were considered in their evaluations, including the availability of coronavirus testing and travel restrictions that these countries might have in place against U.S. citizens.
The bottom line? While domestic travel from state to state appears to be opening up, you shouldn’t plan on trips overseas any time soon.
Regardless of any specific country’s advisory status, the State Department has ultimately warned all U.S. citizens to reconsider any travel abroad, saying “the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose unprecedented risks to travelers.”