The Department of State will significantly increase the number of countries on its “Do Not Travel” advisory list to include 130 nations even as more people become vaccinated and Covid rates drop. That move would mean 80 percent of all nations would now be on the list.
The Biden administration asserts it’s because of Covid, even while Americans continue to get vaccinated.
The list had already featured 34 countries flagged under the “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory, including countries like Russia, Brazil, Argentina, Chad, Kosovo, Kenya, Haiti, Mozambique, and Tanzania. Boosting the number to 80 percent of all nations would imply expanding the list to include roughly 130 countries.
The Biden administration has raised eyebrows by listing China, where the virus originated, as Level 1, or “low risk.”
Some have criticized Biden for ignoring science by including Israel on the list. The country is currently the most vaccinated nation in the world with 8.6 million of its 9 million citizens having received at least one vaccination. It far outpaces all other western nations, including the U.S.
Israel is planning to begin accepting tourists again in the next six weeks.
That apparently doesn’t matter to the State Department which will keep Israel on the list and add more. “This update will result in a significant increase in the number of countries at Level 4: Do Not Travel, to approximately 80% of countries worldwide,” the department said in a statement.
The State Department said that the new advisory “reflects an adjustment in the State Department’s Travel Advisory system to rely more on (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s) existing epidemiological assessments,” rather than a reassessment of current health situations in some countries, drawing criticism for overreach.
Covid restriction in Europe had already prevented most Americans from traveling there. Washington has barred nearly all non-U.S. citizens who have recently been in most of Europe, Israel, China, Brazil, Iran, and South Africa.
The White House has given no timeline for when it might ease the restrictions.
Asked for comment on the State Department announcement, Airlines for America, a trade group representing major U.S. carriers, said “the U.S. airline industry has been a strong advocate for the development of a risk-based, data-driven roadmap for restoring international travel.”
The group added that it continues “to urge the federal government to transparently establish the criteria—including clear metrics, benchmarks, and a timeline—for reopening international markets.”
CDC did not immediately comment.
Earlier this month the CDC discouraged people who fully vaccinated against Covid from traveling in the U.S., sparking pushback from civil liberty groups.
–Metro Voice and wire services