US revises travel ratings for 110 nations; eases restrictions

In a major sigh of relief for the sports lovers across the world, the US has eased travel restrictions on over 110 countries including Japan, just before the start of the Olympics.

The new ratings by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), were posted on its website on Monday. As per the latest CDC update, 61 nations have been lowered from their highest "Level 4" rating (that discouraged all travel) to recommending travel for fully vaccinated individuals.

Yet another 50 countries and territories have been lowered to either "Level 2" or "Level 1," and the countries that are ranked lowest for COVID-19 risk now include Singapore, Israel, South Korea, Iceland, Belize and Albania.

The countries that have been listed in the "Level 3," category are France, Ecuador, the Philippines, South Africa, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Honduras, Hungary and Italy.

The change happened after CDC tweaked its criteria for travel health notices. The agency also revised its rating for the US to “Level 3” from “Level 4.”

The new criteria for a Level 4 “avoid all travel” recommendation has been increased to 500 cases per 100,000 from 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000.

The US State Department has also eased its travel ratings on 85 countries and territories, including Japan.

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Earlier in May, the State Department, had advised US citizens against travel to Japan, citing a fresh wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The warning by the Department had raised concerns and prompted the White House to reaffirm its support for Japan’s plan to hold the world’s largest sporting event this summer. The White House also reaffirmed the support for US athletes competing in the far eastern country, despite a new wave of infections and a low rate of vaccination in Japan.

After being postponed in 2020, the Tokyo Olympics are set to begin on July 23 this year. The Olympics are a four-year event usually. However, this time around, the gap between two Games has been five years due to the unprecedented calamity that world has been facing.