If you’re planning on traveling to Réunion for that big reunion or the Isle of Man to find some men, you may want to re-consider your plans. Both of these locations are currently among the 77 destinations listed as Level 4 or “Covid-19 Very High” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Level 4 is the highest of four levels of risk when it comes to the CDC Covid-19 Travel Recommendations. And the CDC is leveling with you that you really shouldn’t be traveling to such locations.
The CDC’s Four Levels of Covid-19 Risk
Here are these four levels of Covid-19 risk and what the CDC says about each:
- Level 4, Covid-19 Very High: The CDC indicates on its website that you should “avoid travel to these destinations. If you must travel to these destinations, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel.” These are countries that are colored maroon on the accompanying CDC map. So basically, don’t be a maroon when planning your travel.
- Level 3, Covid-19 High: For these destinations, the CDC tells you to “make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to these destinations. Unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel to these destinations.” These are in the red on the map.
- Level 2, Covid-19 Moderate: According to the CDC, “make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to these destinations. Unvaccinated travelers who are at increased risk for severe illness from Covid-19 should avoid nonessential travel to the these destinations.” These are orange on the map and include 19 destinations such as Australia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Romania, Singapore, and South Korea. Remember, orange you glad that these are not more red.
- Level 1, Covid-19 Low: For these the CDC says, “make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel to these destinations.” This is the lowest risk category, marked in yellow on the map, and a group of 30 destinations that includes Djibouti, Hong Kong, Hungary, Madagascar, New Zealand, and Taiwan.
As you can see, the CDC recommends that you get fully vaccinated regardless of where your destination may be. There is no Level 0.5, Covid-19 None. There is no “Covid-19 is a hoax and no big deal” country.
So which destinations currently make the highest level of Covid-19 risk list? Well, let’s go region by region.
The South Pacific region has four destinations on the Level 4 list: French Polynesia, Guam, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea. At the end of July, Guam had reached its goal of fully vaccinating at least 80% of its adult population. Guam was able to move from Level 4 to Level 3 in June. However, those days are Guam, or rather aren’t Guam now. Easing of other Covid-19 precautions may have led to another surge in August, prompting the CDC to return Guam to Level 4 last month.
Only one destination in East Asia makes this Level 4 category and that’s Mongolia. The only caveat is that potential vacation hotspot North Korea actually falls into the “Level Unknown” category. So don’t embark on your spa and winery holiday in North Korea until much more is known about the spread and control of Covid-19 there.
Southeast Asia has four destinations that qualify as Level 4: Thailand, Myanmar, Brunei, and Malaysia. The CDC last updated all of these travel recommendation lists on September 7, 2021, and in the process moved Brunei from Level 3 to Level 4. Note that Thailand is on the list but not Thigh-Land, as some people may have pronounced Thailand in the past. If you want to to travel to Thigh-Land, you’ll have to find it on a map first, potentially close to Butt-Land wherever that may be.
Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Maldives currently are at Level 4. Sri Lanka is a new addition, having moved from Level 3 on September 7.
The CDC moved Azerbaijan up to Level 4 at the end of August to join Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Lebanon, and Kuwait are on the highest-risk list. Over the past 28 days, Iran has had the fourth highest total reported Covid-19 cases in the world with 899,528.
Eastern Europe and Western Asia
In this region, you’d be talking Turkey as well as Montenegro, Kosovo, and North Macedonia. If you’ve got Georgia on your mind, keep in mind that it’s on the list as well.
The CDC lists seven European Union (EU) countries at Level 4: France, Estonia, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain. The EU isn’t so keen on Americans traveling their member states either. On August 30, the EU announced that they would recommend against non-essential travel from the U.S. This was a non-binding recommendation, so it’s been up to individual countries to decide what to do. Some of the EU member states are following through with this recommendation. For example, starting tomorrow (September 12), France will be instituting more stringent restrictions for unvaccinated U.S. travels trying to enter their country:
And as Al Goodman reported for CNN on September 7, Spain will only allow tourists from the United States to enter if they are fully vaccinated and can provide a valid Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card as proof.
Switzerland is its own category here because it’s all neutral and everything. But the Covid-19 coronavirus clearly doesn’t care. Over the past 28 days, Switzerland has had 72,683 reported Covid-19 cases and 144 reported Covid-19 deaths. The CDC moved Switzerland to the highest risk level at the end of August.
United Kingdom (U.K.)
The U.K. has not been Covid-19 OK for most of the pandemic. According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the U.K. has had the third most reported Covid-19 cases over the past 28 days (960,765) in the world, behind only the U.S. and India. This doesn’t exactly scream, “come and visit!” Along with the U.K. in general, the CDC lists Jersey as a separate Level 4 destination. This is Jersey, the largest of the islands in the English Channel, and not New Jersey, the home of The Situation from the TV reality show Jersey Shore.
The continent of Africa has 13 destinations on the Level 4 list, including three in Northern Africa: Libya, Tunisia and Morocco. Libya has been at Level 4 since early August. The CDC moved Morocco up to Level 3 in early August and then to Level 4 on August 23.
Somalia, South Sudan, Burundi, and Seychelles are on the list for this part of the world. There may be other reasons to not visit some of these countries. On June 17, the U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory for South Sudan, warning of violent crime, such as carjackings, shootings, ambushes, assaults, robberies, kidnappings, armed conflict, and cattle raids. Armed conflict and cattle raids don’t always make it to travel brochure or other advertisement that you may see. So, in general, it’s a good to check the State Department travel advisories before planning to go anywhere new.
Two countries (Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of the Congo) in this region make the list. Both of these countries have U.S. State Department travel advisories for reasons beyond Covid-19 as well.
South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, and Eswatini are considered Level 4. As Jemima McEvoy reported on August 30 for Forbes, yet another highly mutated Covid-19 coronavirus variant, affectionately dubbed C.1.2, has been detected in South Africa. Researchers have not yet fully determined how much of a threat this variant may be. The World Health Organization (WHO) so far hasn’t listed C.1.2 as either a variant of interest or a variant of concern or given it a Greek letter as a name. Nevertheless, this is further evidence that the Covid-19 coronavirus is far from well-controlled in South Africa.
There are five different South American destinations listed: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Suriname, and French Guiana. Brazil has had the third most reported Covid-19 deaths in the world over the past 28 days with 17,984, next to Russia, which is second at 21,772. Take a wild guess as to which country is number one.
Two countries in this region make the list: Costa Rica and Panama. Costa Rica has been in the highest risk category since May and Panama since July.
If you are planning a Caribbean get-away, make sure that it’s not Aruba, The Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Curaçao, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, or Sint Maarten. The CDC moved Jamaica to Level 4 on September 7.
Now, you may notice that while the 77 destinations listed don’t include any locations in the U.S., on the CDC map, the U.S. is full of maroon. That’s because since early 2020, the U.S. has really led the world in most of the Covid-19-related things that you don’t want to lead the world in such as total number of reported Covid-19 cases (40,885,507) and deaths (659,173) throughout the course of pandemic. Over the past 28 days, the U.S. has had more reported Covid-19 cases (4,266,276) and Covid-19-related deaths (37,793) than any other country in the world.
So if you are in another country and planning on traveling to Ochopee, Florida, to see the World’s Smallest Post Office, you may want to mail it in instead.