On June 7, 2021, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its revised list of coronavirus travel guidelines. The revision reclassified over 100 countries as the CDC opted to use more specific categorization. The new guidelines differentiate between countries with severe current outbreaks versus disease spread that is ongoing but under control. Recommendations are now also split for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.
Sixty-one countries have been downgraded from Level 4 status (the highest) to Level 3, and 50 more were lowered to Levels 1 or 2. In response, the U.S. State Department has also lowered many of its own travel advisories, but not all of them. Along with disease statistics, the State Department also considered testing availability, commercial flight congestion, and restrictions on entry for U.S. citizens.
Here is a simplified description of the levels:
Level 4: Avoid travel to these destinations. If you must travel to these destinations, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel. There are at least 500 cases per 100,000 people.
Level 3: Make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to these destinations. Unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel to these destinations.
Level 2: Make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to these destinations. Unvaccinated travelers who are at increased risk for severe illness should avoid nonessential travel to the these destinations.
Level 1: Make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel to these destinations.
Countries labeled Level 1 (Low) for COVID-19 risk under the new CDC guidelines include Israel, Singapore, South Korea, Iceland, and Belize. New Level 2 (Moderate) countries include Zambia, Uganda, Cambodia, and Bermuda. Countries downgraded from Level 4 (Very High) to Level 3 (High) include Ecuador, France, Mexico, Russia, Honduras, and Italy.
Possibly most relevant is Japan, which while still suffering a relative outbreak, was reduced from Level 4 to Level 3 in the new classification. With the Summer Olympics still on the table, billions in tourism dollars are dependent on the world being willing to visit the country.
Still rated at Level 4 (Very High) are Argentina, Jamaica, Brazil, Haiti, India, Sweden, and more than 50 other nations.