The US State Department quietly eased travel advisories for the United Kingdom and Israel on Monday evening in a show of confidence for vaccination campaigns that have dramatically reduced COVID-19 infections in both countries. Travel advisories for the UK and Israel had only been raised to the highest Level 4 ‘Do Not Travel’ category last month.
The UK advisory has been lowered to Level 3 ‘Reconsider Travel’ while Israel is now at Level 2 ‘Exercise Increased Caution’. Other countries at Level 2 include Australia and New Zealand which have both successfully kept the COVID-19 pandemic under control with very few cases or deaths.
Just weeks ago, the State Department put nearly 80 per cent of the world into its most severe Level 4 category citing an “unprecedented risk to travelers” posed by the pandemic. Previously only 34 countries had been at Level 4 but the State Department said the change was made to reflect existing epidemiological assessments from the Centers for Disease Control. and Prevention (CDC).
The decision to ease the travel advisory for the UK will raise hopes that the Biden administration is getting closer to lifting a more than year-long travel ban on non-American citizens from the UK. Travel bans are also in force for much of Europe, Brazil, South Africa, Iran and China. Travel from India was also recently restricted.
The CDC still warns of a ‘very high’ risk of COVID-19 in the UK and advises all travelers to avoid non-essential travel to the country – the same rules apply to travelers who are fully vaccinated.
American travelers have never been banned from entering the UK but from May 17 the US will be classed as an ‘Amber’ country under the British government’s traffic light system to restart international travel. Passengers will need to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival and take three COVID-19 tests regardless of vaccination status under the new rules.
Airlines and travel industry campaigners have urged the British government to reclassify the United States as a quarantine free ‘Green List’ country but so far only 12 countries and territories (including remote British outposts that aren’t accessible by air) have made that coveted list.
Earlier this month, a coalition of industry heavyweights wrote to President Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging them to reopen “one of the world’s most important aviation markets as soon as safely possible”.
Industry bodies that represent the likes of American Airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are hoping the two leaders will reach a deal before a G7 meeting in early June.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.