US State Department lifts global ‘Do Not Travel’ advisory

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WEST PALM BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 15: People board a United Airlines Boeing 757 airplane at Palm Beach International Airport on February 15, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

 After more than four months, the US State Department on Thursday lifted its advisory warning US citizens against traveling abroad.

The department issued the Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory — the highest level of travel advisory — on March 19, urging US citizens not to travel overseas due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, “(w)ith 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 (with Levels from 1-4 depending on country-specific conditions), in order to give travelers detailed and actionable information to make informed travel decisions,” a Thursday note from the State Department said.

“This will also provide U.S. citizens more detailed information about the current status in each country,” the note said. “We continue to recommend U.S. citizens exercise caution when traveling abroad due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic.”

Although the guidance from the diplomatic agency has been lifted, American travelers continue to face travel restrictions in countries worldwide due to rising cases of the deadly disease in the United States.

The European Union has blocked entry to US tourists, and the UK requires travelers from the US to quarantine for 14 days.

There are restrictions on non-essential travel between the US and its neighbors to the north and south — Canada and Mexico — until at least late August.

The US Centers for Disease Control still recommends against non-essential travel to more than 200 destinations due to the high Covid-19 risk.

“We are closely monitoring health and safety conditions across the globe, working in partnership with the CDC and other agencies. As always, we will regularly update our destination-specific advice to U.S. travelers as conditions evolve,”the State Department note said.

“The Department of State has worked closely with the CDC since the start of the pandemic to align our public messages and travel advice and to keep Americans safe,” it said. “The Department’s COVID-19 Travel Advisories are informed by CDC’s expert judgement of the health situation as well as other factors related to travel, infrastructure, healthcare resources, and potential closures and restrictions in the country which are important for U.S. citizens to consider.”

The Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory put into effect in March advised “U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19” and urged Americans “in countries where commercial departure options remain available” to “arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.”

As commercial flight options disappeared and borders were shuttered to combat the spread of the virus, the department undertook an unprecedented repatriation effort to get Americans back home. Between January 27 and June 10, they coordinated the repatriation of 101,386 Americans on 1,140 flights from 136 countries and territories.

The international travel industry has taken a huge hit by the spread of the virus. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced last week that global air travel won’t recover from the pandemic until 2024.

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