(NEXSTAR) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has eased travel guidelines for at least 110 countries and territories, including 61 countries that were previously listed under its highest “Level 4” risk category for COVID-19.
The 61 countries were downgraded to Level 3 on Monday, reports Reuters, citing a CDC spokesperson. In addition, dozens of other countries that were previously listed as Level 3 or Level 2 were downgraded to Levels 2 or 1, as well.
Among the countries previously listed at Level 4 (“very high” risk for travelers) to Level 3 (“high” risk) include Canada, France, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Spain and South Africa, among more than 50 others.
The United States, too, has been moved from Level 4 to Level 3.
According to the CDC, the updates do not necessarily reflect lowering rates of COVID-19 in each country, but rather a change in the CDC’s criteria for categorizing a “Level 4” risk. The CDC had previously reserved its Level 4 designation for countries with 100 or more COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people; a country is now recognized as Level 4 if there are 500 cases per 100,000 people.
Still, the CDC says its travel recommendations were updated not only because of criteria changes, but also because “outbreaks are better controlled” in some areas, Reuters reports.
Despite lowering the risk level of over a hundred countries and territories, the CDC still urges U.S. citizens to be fully vaccinated before traveling abroad. Unvaccinated Americans are advised to avoid nonessential travel, as well.
Even with relaxed travel recommendations, the CDC still warns than most non-citizens traveling into the U.S. from dozens of international locations — including many that were just downgraded to Level 3 — are still prohibited from entering the U.S. if they were “physically present” in those areas within the past 14 days. Countries on this list include China, Iran, the U.K., the Republic of Ireland, Brazil, South Africa and India, as well as any country in the European Schengen area.