The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising travelers to stay away from Greece, Ireland, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other destinations, regardless of vaccination status.
The agency bumped more than a dozen destinations to its highest travel advisory category, “level 4: very high level of COVID-19,” on Monday. The agency asks travelers to avoid those destinations and says those who must travel should make sure they are fully vaccinated before arrival.
The change comes as countries around the globe grapple with the highly contagious delta variant.
The countries that moved up to Level 4 include:
- Andorra (from level 3)
- Curaçao (from level 2)
- Gibraltar (COVID-19 data was previously unknown)
- Greece (from level 3)
- Guadeloupe (from level 3)
- Iran (from level 3)
- Ireland (from level 3)
- Isle of Man (from level 3)
- Kazakhstan (from level 3)
- Lesotho (from level 3)
- Libya (from level 3)
- Malta (from level 3)
- Martinique (from level 3)
- Saint Barthelemy (from level 1)
- Saint Martin (from level 3)
- U.S. Virgin Islands (from level 3)
The United Kingdom also was recently added to the CDC’s Level 4 after COVID-19 cases spiked. You can find a full list of the agency’s travel recommendations on its website.
The CDC says unvaccinated Americans should avoid travel to level 3 destinations, defined as “COVID-19 high,” and asks unvaccinated travelers who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 to avoid nonessential travel to areas designated as Level 2, or “COVID-19 moderate.” It advises all travelers to complete COVID-19 vaccinations before any sort of international travel, regardless of the destination’s infection levels.
The travel recommendations, which are based on World Health Organization data and other official sources, are meant to “better differentiate countries with severe outbreak situations from countries with sustained, but controlled, COVID-19 spread,” according to the CDC’s website.
Destinations’ categorizations can move frequently. The U.S. Virgin Islands, for instance, was moved up to Level 4 in July, dropped down to a Level 3 later that month and returned to the Level 4 category on Monday.
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Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz.