CDC Overhauls Travel Risk Advisory System; Changing Classification of Many Top Destinations

People walking in airport.
Via Pixabay.

Mondays have been notable as the day the CDC has been updating its travel risk warnings during the pandemic.

Following a number of weeks with no new entries at its highest, Level 4 category of risk, the CDC has now changed how it assesses and reports travel risk to different global destinations.

The biggest change comes from dropping regular use of “Level 4/ Very High” risk category for travellers.

In the new system, Level 4 will be reserved only for extraordinary circumstances, involving "extremely high case counts, emergence of a new variant of concern or healthcare infrastructure collapse," according to the CDC. "Other factors that may be considered include information such as vaccination rate and hospitalization rate."

The other three categories will remain in regular use, with travellers to Level 3 destinations at ‘high risk’ of the virus, Level 2 at ‘moderate risk’ and Level 1 at ‘low risk.’ Those categorizations will still be based on the existing formula of numbers of cases in the past 28 days.

Under the new system unveiled Monday 18APR, the CDC did not categorize any destinations at its new Level 4 -- "Special Circumstances/Do Not Travel" -- on its Travel Recommendations page on its site.

However, many EU destinations are now designated at Level 3/ ‘High’ risk  - along with many other top global destinations.

Functionally, then, not much has changed, except a metaphorical taking a hand off the panic button.

Dropping regular use of the highest alert appears to be another indication that the world is moving to treat the COVID-19 virus as an endemic situation that’s here to stay as we learn to ‘live with it.’

Lynn Elmhirst


With a background in broadcast news and travel lifestyles TV production, Lynn is just as comfortable behind or in front of the camera as she is slinging words into compelling stories at her laptop. Having been called a multi-media ‘content charmer’, Lynn’s other claim to fame is the ability to work 24/7, forgoing sleep until the job is done. Documented proof exists in a picture of Lynn at the closing celebrations of an intense week, standing, champagne in hand - sound asleep. That’s our kind of gal.

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