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State Department Lifts “Level 4 Global Health Advisory” – But Does It Mean Anything?

State Department Lifts “Level 4 Global Health Advisory” – But Does It Mean Anything?
Joe Cortez

The U.S. State Department is no longer discouraging Americans from going abroad, by lifting the first Global Level 4 Health Advisory in history. But with many nations closing borders to Americans, is the move a hollow victory?

Americans are no longer discouraged from traveling abroad, but will this help encourage travel during the COVID-19 pandemic? The U.S. State Department announced, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), they will lift the Global Level 4 Health Advisory effective Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020.

Lifted Advisory Encourages International Travel

According to the State Department, the first ever Global Level 4 Health Advisory was put in place on Mar. 19, 2020, due to “the global impact of COVID-19.” However, as nations are starting to develop strategies to reduce the spread and lower the curve, the diplomatic office will resume offering travel advice and advisories based on the conditions in individual nations.

“With health and safety conditions improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others, the Department is returning to our previous system of country-specific levels of travel advice…in order to give travelers detailed and actionable information to make informed travel decisions,” the announcement from the State Department reads. “This will also provide U.S. citizens more detailed information about the current status in each country.  We continue to recommend U.S. citizens exercise caution when traveling abroad due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic.”

After repealing the global health advisory, only two destinations are under Level 1 advisories: the Chinese semi-autonomous city of Macau and the island nation of Taiwan. Nine destinations, including Fiji, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Thailand, are under a Level 2 advisory. The remainder, including nations in the European Union, are under a Level 3 advisory, suggesting travelers should “Reconsider Travel.” Brazil, China and Russia remain under the Level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisory.

Despite Lifted Advisory, Many Nations Still Closed to American Travelers

Although the State Department is lifting their travel advisories and shifting recommendations, the rest of the world remains closed to most Americans. For Macau, the U.S. Consulate for Hong Kong warns “non-Macau residents who have been to an overseas territory in the past 14 days will be denied entry.”

In addition, the European Commission continued to recommend that travelers with American passports continue to be denied entry into European Union member states in their latest update on July 31, 2020. This is the third time that the Commission has moved to block Americans entering the trade bloc.

According to The New York Times, only 30 nations are currently accepting American travelers, including The Bahamas. Although the State Department is lifting advisories and opening international travel options, does it mean anything if Americans don’t have the freedom to go abroad?

View Comments (2)


  1. AsiaTraveler

    August 6, 2020 at 8:13 pm

    While the ability to travel is still curtailed, the lifting of the level 4 advisory has positive implications for traveler’s ability to obtain travel insurance. So, it’s still a small victory.

  2. Loren Pechtel

    August 7, 2020 at 5:17 am

    It’s past time for this repeal–we are the risk to them, not them being a risk to us!

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