NOTE: This post usually updates on Tuesdays.
The Center For Disease Control (CDC) has updated its weekly list of high-risk countries. Many popular European and Caribbean countries have remained at or moved up to the very high-risk, level 4 countries. The week, the number 2 visited country in Europe, Spain has been elevated to level 4. Level 4 countries have increased substantially this week. 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.
A Perfect Storm And Travel Bans In Europe
Both the Delta and Omicron variants continue to surge in Europe.
Tourist travel to and from Europe is getting harder. This is especially true regarding travel in Europe to and from the United Kingdom. France has banned all non-essential travel to and from the U.K.
The Netherlands instituted a strict lockdown that began Sunday, December 19, 2021. This action closed nonessential shops, hospitality venues and cultural institutions.
This week, Spain has been elevated to level 4 status. Spain has been the number 2 in Europe for tourism.
Travel restrictions continue to change in Europe. Be sure to visit the government travel websites of the countries that you plan to visit for up-to-date entry requirements. Many European countries have digital health pre-clearance forms that need to be submitted prior to your departure to those countries.
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. This means a Covid test was conducted 24 hours prior to departure.
- 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.
Here is the text from the CDC on testing prior to returning to the United States:
All air passengers 2 years or older with a flight departing to the US from a foreign country at or after 12:01am EST (5:01am GMT) on December 6, 2021, are required show a negative COVID-19 viral test result taken no more than 1 day before travel, or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days, before they board their flight.
The new testing window for unvaccinated Americans can be problematic because you will need an approved test with a fast turnaround time for the results. You will have to show proof of a negative Covid test prior to boarding your flight.
Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States can be found here.
River And Ocean Cruises
The CDC now puts cruise ships in a level 3 category. This level applies to all cruises whether they are ocean or river cruises.
Royal Caribbean Cruises operated the world’s largest cruise ship the Symphony of the Seas. The Symphony of the Seas carries 6,000 passengers and crew. When the ship docked in Miami from a recent Caribbean cruise, 48 passengers tested positive for the virus.
Countries 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.
Many popular countries have either initiated restrictions or will be implementing restrictions. Be sure to check on countries that you plan to visit for current or pending restrictions.
These countries have remained at 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.
- United Kingdom
The famous Munich Christmas Market has been cancelled for 2021 as it was cancelled last year.
Here are popular countries remaining or moving to level 4. Many of the latest countries that remain at level 4 are the most popular vacation destinations in the Caribbean, Europe and the Middle East due to a surge in the Delta variant and now Omicron as well.
- San Marino
- South Africa
More than 90 countries in total are classified as level 4 status this week.
These Countries Have Moved To Level 3
Four countries on the list this week have either improved or were downgraded. Some of the Caribbean countries remain at level 3 They are:
- Peru – previously level 2
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines – previously level 4
Countries That Have Changed To Level 2
- St. Pierre and Miquelon – previously level 1
Countries Now Reported At Level 1
- Equatorial Guinea – previously level 2
Popular Countries With Unknown Risks
The following countries have insufficient data for the CDC to assign a risk level:
- Falkland Islands
- French Guiana
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.
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 December 28, 2021.