Fiji, Costa Rica and several Caribbean islands among those added to CDC's "Do Not Travel" list

Fiji is among the countries added to the CDC's Level-4 advisories.
Fiji is now among the destinations the CDC considers "high-risk" for travelers © Matteo Colombo/Getty Images

As the Omicron variant continues to drive COVID-19 infections worldwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has added 15 countries — including Costa RicaFiji,  and several islands in the Caribbean — to its list of places it advises Americans not to travel due to a high number of COVID-19 infections.

The total list of countries newly added by the CDC for the week of January 24 includes ColombiaCosta RicaFiji,  JamaicaGuadeloupe  Kuwait, Mongolia, NigerPeru  Romania, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin, Dominican Republic, United Arab Emirates and Tunisia .

The number of places the CDC has asked Americans to avoid continues to grow with the spread of the Omicron variant. 

The advisories aim to inform US residents about risks associated with traveling overseas, so people can make better-informed decisions about travel and enjoy relatively safe trips. If you plan to travel soon, here's what you need to know about the latest travel guidelines.

What is a travel advisory?

The ongoing risks associated with COVID-19, particularly as new variants emerge, present challenges and uncertainties for travel. To make the experience a little less confusing, the Department of State has aligned its security travel advisories with the CDC's science-based Travel Health Notices to warn travelers about dangers and COVID-19 threats overseas.

Level 4 travel advisory

Level 4 is the highest alert. Countries that register more than 500 new cases of COVID-19 over the past 28 days per 100,000 population are designated to the CDC's Level-4 list. Under CDC guidelines, people are asked to "avoid travel" to Level 4 destinations—but if they must travel, they should be fully vaccinated.

The Department of State takes this information into account, also looking at factors such as political instability, natural disasters and the threat of terrorism or violent crime. "[Level 4] is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks," the Department explains. In the context of COVID-19, Americans are urged to avoid travel to these places due to increased infection rates and COVID-19 variants such as the Omicron.

What countries are at Level 4?

Many popular European destinations have been designated Level 4 and the list now contains several Caribbean winter escapes like the Bahamas Dominican Republic, the British Virgin IslandsJamaicaGuadeloupe , Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Lucia, Sint Maarten/Saint Martin, and Turks and Caicos.

Level 3 advisory

The CDC advises unvaccinated Americans to avoid nonessential travel to Level 3 destinations, where risks associated with COVID-19 remain high. Some popular destinations designated Level 3 include Brazil,  ChileCubaDjiboutiIndiaJapanMalawiMexico, Mozambique, Paraguay, the PhilippinesSouth Korea, and Thailand.

Level 2 advisory

Level 2 places are considered "COVID-19 moderate" destinations by the CDC. When traveling to these places people are asked to "practice enhanced precautions". The CDC also urges unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 to avoid nonessential travel to Level 2 destinations. Some countries currently at Level 2 include countries like El Salvador, Honduras and New Zealand. 

Level 1 advisory

Level 1 destinations are considered "low-risk" countries. People traveling to these places are asked to "exercise normal precautions" by the Department of State. Given the scale of the pandemic, not many countries are considered low-risk. Some countries at Level 1 include China,  Indonesia, and Senegal

A solo travellers flight has been cancelled. She is standing in front of the departures board. She is wearing a protective face mask
Travel advisories are intended to help people make better-informed decisions about travel ©Getty Images

Should I cancel my trip to a Level 4 country?

The answer is up to you. Travel advisories are guidelines, not rules. You are still permitted to travel to these places, but if you choose to go to a country the government is advising you to avoid, you do so at your own risk. In some extreme cases—that is, countries where there is civil unrest, widespread violence and political instability—the Department warns that some consular services may not be available to you and advises travelers to "always have a contingency plan for emergency situations".

If I do travel, do I need to quarantine?

It depends on your destination. These travel advisories and travel health notices are set out by the US government and the CDC, not the governments of the individual countries. For example, Ireland is at Level 4 but the Irish government is permitting Americans to travel there.

Will my travel insurance cover me in a Level 4 country?

It depends on your plan and provider. We asked several travel insurance experts for information on the impact travel advisories have on your insurance; find out how your health insurance covers getting COVID-19 while traveling abroad, and how to choose travel insurance that covers COVID-19.

How often do these advisories change?

The Department of State confirms it reviews and updates travel advisories "as needed, based on security and safety information."

How to resist the urge to travel during the coronavirus pandemic

Anyone considering heading abroad should read the entire travel advisory for their destination at Travel.State.gov; in addition to the destination's border restrictions and entry requirements—and stay up-to-date on local public health guidelines.

For more information on COVID-19 and travel, check out Lonely Planet's Health Hub.

This article was first published on August 6, 2020 and updated on January 24, 2022

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