Air travellers wearing protective face masks, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, walk at JetBlue Terminal 5 at JFK International airport in New York, U.S., November 16, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo
April 13 (Reuters) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Wednesday it will revise its COVID-19 travel recommendations for international destinations and shrink the number of countries the government recommends avoiding.
About 90 countries and regions, including most of Europe, Brazil, Turkey, Russia, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Israel and Australia are currently rated by CDC as "Level 4: Very High" and the CDC recommends Americans, even if vaccinated, to avoid travel to those countries.
"This new system will reserve Level 4 travel health notices for special circumstances, such as rapidly escalating case trajectory or extremely high case counts," the CDC said in a statement, adding that it will be effective Monday.
Last month, industry group U.S. Travel urged the CDC to end "avoid travel" advisories for all vaccinated individuals and urged the Biden administration to avoid the future "use of travel bans from specific countries."
The letter added that the "CDC should ensure that Americans are not dissuaded from traveling to any place with COVID-19 case rates that are equal to, or less than, the case rates prevailing in the U.S."
The CDC in recent weeks has been dropping a number of countries from the "Level 4" rating including Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, Bolivia, Botswana, and Haiti.
Airlines and other travel groups have been pressing the Biden administration to lift the pre-departure COVID negative test requirements for international air travelers — as many other countries have done.
Airline say the testing rules dissuade some Americans from international flights because of the cost of testing and the fear of being stranded abroad if they contract COVID. Administration officials say the issue has been under review in recent weeks but health officials have announced no changes.
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Major U.S. freight railroads said on Friday they were preparing for a possible strike and service disruption a week before a deadline in protracted labor talks.
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