Monday, December 6, 2021
European travel powerhouse and 6 other places at 'very high' risk for COVID-19, CDC says
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put five places in Europe — including one of the world's biggest tourism powerhouses — on its list of destinations for "very high" COVID-19 travel risk.
France and four of its European neighbors moved to Level 4, the CDC's highest-risk category, on Monday. France was the world's top destination for international tourist arrivals pre-pandemic, according to 2019 figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
Two other places — one in the Middle East, the other in East Africa — were also moved to Level 4. Those seven nations are:
Destinations that fall into the CDC's "COVID-19 Very High" Level 4 category have had more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.
People should avoid traveling to locations designated with a "Level 4" notice, the CDC recommends. Anyone who must travel should be fully vaccinated first, the agency advises.
In its broader travel guidance, the CDC has recommended avoiding all international travel until you are fully vaccinated.
"Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19. However, international travel poses additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some COVID-19 variants," the agency said.
All of these European destinations, plus Jordan in the Middle East, had previously been considered "high" risk at Level 3. Previously, safari favorite Tanzania had been rated "unknown" for lack of reliable information.
The Level 4 announcement comes as two troubling fronts continue to develop in the pandemic.
First, Europe continues to grapple with a COVID-19 surge that threatens the overall economy and tourism in particular.
France has been hit particularly hard in this latest wave and is responding with increasingly strict measures. Neighboring Germany is also tightening rules on who can come in and ramping up restrictions on its own unvaccinated citizens.
Some Christmas markets in Europe are still planning to operate, but others, including the famed Munich market, have been canceled.
Secondly, the world is anxiously watching the newest coronavirus variant of concern, called omicron.
First announced by South African health authorities in late November, the variant has prompted various travel bans on nations in southern Africa. The CDC moved numerous southern African nations to Level 4 on Nov. 27 because of omicron.
And the United States implemented tighter travel rules on Monday because of concern about the variant.
Other nations on Level 4
While Europe is hard hit, it isn't the only region with popular tourist destinations on Level 4. Among the other places also considered at "very high" risk for travel are:
• Cayman Islands
In all, more than 80 countries were rated Level 4 as of Dec. 6.