The U.S. State Department issued a mountain of revised travel advisories on Tuesday, reflecting the decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday to end country-by-country Covid-19 travel health notices.
“As a result, the State Department no longer includes CDC Covid-19 [travel health notice] information in our travel advisories,” a State Department spokesperson said, adding that the changes related to health notices did not impact the travel advisory levels.
In all, a whopping 98 updated travel advisories were posted, including six “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisories, with updated health information for Russia, Ukraine, Central African Republic, Mali, Burkina Faso and Belarus. Countries with a Level-4 designation present a “greater likelihood of life-threatening risks.”
The government also updated 11 “Level 3” travel advisories for countries where Americans should “reconsider travel” due to “risks to safety and security.” Among these, five countries are in Africa and three are in Central and South America. The Cayman Islands is still at Level 3 due to Covid-related restrictions.
At “Level 2,” 32 travel advisories advise travelers to “exercise increased caution.” Of these countries, nine European destinations — including tourism powerhouses France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom — continue to carry travel advisories citing “terrorism,” “terrorism and civil unrest,” or, in the case of Turkey, “terrorism and arbitrary detentions.”
These nine travel advisories begin in the same way: “Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas.”
Continued risk of terrorism
In early August, the U.S. issued a rare worldwide caution, the first in nearly four years, to provide American travelers with general information regarding terrorist activities, political violence, and criminal activity that occur abroad. The current caution points to the “continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations, and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas. The Department of State believes there is a higher potential for anti-American violence given the death of Ayman al-Zawahiri on July 31, 2022.”
For travelers, it’s always worth reading the State Department’s advice before a trip. For example, the U.S. travel advisory for France currently notes that “demonstrations in Paris and other major cities continue in France and are expected to continue in the coming weeks,” and notes that “the U.S. Embassy is advising official U.S. government travelers to avoid travel to Paris and other major cities in France on the weekends.”
Heading to Spain? The State Department advises American travelers to avoid demonstrations, which are common and “may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events.”
The U.S. travel advisory for Türkiye (formerly Turkey) has a far more ominous tone: “Security forces have detained tens of thousands of individuals, including U.S. citizens, for alleged affiliations with terrorist organizations based on scant or secret evidence and grounds that appear to be politically motivated. U.S. citizens have also been subject to travel bans that prevent them from departing Turkey. Participation in demonstrations not explicitly approved by the Government of Turkey, as well as criticism of the government (including on social media) can result in arrest.”
It’s also worth noting that, since October 1, Canada has updated 42 travel advisories. Canadian travelers heading to Western Europe are recommended to “exercise a high degree of caution” due to the threat of terrorism in France, the United Kingdom, Türkiye and Belgium.
The State Department encourage U.S. citizens to stay connected via travel.state.gov and through the @travelgov social media accounts, and to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive timely alerts.