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Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Global Level 4 Health Advisory Lifted by Department of State of the United States

A Global Level 4 Health Advisory to reconsider travel was officially lifted by the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the Department of State of the United States yesterday, Thursday, August 6, 2020 in close coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and this news marks a return to the previous system of travel advice and travel advisories which are specific to each country in the world.

Global Level 4 Health Advisory Lifted by Department of State of the United States

The historic advisory — which was issued on Thursday, March 19, 2020 — advised citizens of the United States to avoid all international travel in response to the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic and its impact worldwide; but as health and safety conditions have been improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in other countries, each country will be assigned a level from 1 to 4 depending on conditions in order to give travelers detailed and actionable information to be informed on decisions related to travel.

Additionally, more detailed information about the current status in each country will be provided to citizens of the United States, who are advised to continue to exercise caution when traveling abroad due to the unpredictable nature of the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic. Furthermore, citizens of the United States who plan to travel are encouraged to review the entire travel advisory for each destination at the official Internet web site of the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the Department of State of the United States — as well as this complete list of recent updates to travel advisories — which host all travel advisories, recent alerts issued for each country, and an interactive map in mobile-friendly formats. Country pages on the site will continue to include all travel information currently available, including details about entry requirements and exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, transportation, and other relevant topics.

“Keeping the American public informed of health and safety conditions around the world is key to our broader mission of ensuring the safety and security of U.S. citizens”, according to this official note to the media from the office of the spokesperson of the Department of State of the United States. “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. 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.”

Health and safety conditions across the globe are closely being monitored by the Department of State, which is working in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies. Advice which is specific to destinations around the world will continue to be regularly updated to citizens of the United States who travel as conditions evolve.

How to Use the Travel Advisory System

Every country has its own travel advisory with levels of advice ranging from 1 to 4; and although the Department of State will issue an overall travel advisory level for every country, levels of advice may vary for specific locations or areas within a country.

The levels are as follows — along with their official colors:

  • Level 1 — Exercise Normal Precautions This is the lowest advisory level for safety and security risk. There is some risk in any international travel. Conditions in other countries may differ from those in the United States and may change at any time.
  • Level 2 — Exercise Increased Caution Be aware of heightened risks to safety and security. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the travel advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time.
  • Level 3 — Reconsider Travel Avoid travel due to serious risks to safety and security. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time.
  • Level 4 — Do Not Travel This is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks. During an emergency, the United States government may have very limited ability to provide assistance. The Department of State advises that United States citizens not travel to the country or leave as soon as it is safe to do so. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time.
Travel advice levels
Source: Department of State of the United States.

Varying Levels Within a Country

The Department of State will issue an overall travel advisory level for a country, but levels of advice may vary for specific locations or areas within a country. For instance, the Department of State may advise citizens of the United States to “Exercise Increased Caution” — which is Level 2 — in a country; but to “Reconsider Travel” — which is Level 3 — to a particular area within the country.

Risk Indicators

The detailed travel advisories will also will provide clear reasons for the level assigned, using established risk indicators, and offer specific advice to citizens of the United States who choose to travel there:

  • C – Crime Widespread violent or organized crime is present in areas of the country. Local law enforcement may have limited ability to respond to serious crimes.
  • T – Terrorism Terrorist attacks have occurred and/or specific threats against civilians, groups, or other targets may exist.
  • U – Civil Unrest Political, economic, religious, and/or ethnic instability exists and may cause violence, major disruptions, and/or safety risks.
  • H – Health Health risks — including current disease outbreaks or a crisis that disrupts the medical infrastructure of a country — are present. The issuance of a Centers for Disease Control Travel Notice may be a factor.
  • N – Natural Disaster A natural disaster — or its aftermath — poses danger.
  • E – Time-Limited Event A short-term event — such as an election, sporting event, or other incident — which may pose a safety risk.
  • O – Other There are potential risks not covered by previous risk indicators. Read the travel advisory of the country for details.

Examples of Each Advice Level

Here are some real examples of the new travel advisory system — and you can click on each of the graphics to get to the source to see the latest updated information:

Canada
Source: Department of State of the United States.
Saudi Arabia
Source: Department of State of the United States.
Turkey
Source: Department of State of the United States.
Somalia
Source: Department of State of the United States.

Other Information

The Department of State will review and update each travel advisory as needed, based on evolving changes to security and safety information. Additionally, United States embassies and consulates will continue to issue timely alerts and important updates to replace the current emergency messages and security messages. Alerts inform citizens of the United States of specific safety and security concerns in their planned destinations — such as demonstrations, crime trends, weather events, and health and safety conditions.

Citizens of the United States are encouraged to stay connected with the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the Department of State of the United States via its official Internet web sites — including:

Summary

The official lifting of the Global Level 4 Health Advisory to reconsider travel does not mean that the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic has subsided. It simply means that you should exercise caution when traveling internationally…

…and remember that in addition to the information and updates from Bureau of Consular Affairs of the Department of State of the United States, you can also refer to a map of countries and territories which contains the latest information pertaining to restrictions upon entry as a result of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic. The map is maintained by the International Air Transport Association, which is more popularly known as IATA and is a trade association of airlines around the world.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

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