Starting Monday (April 18), the CDC is changing its Travel Health Notice System for COVID-19 with the biggest impact being that fewer countries will end up classified under the highest level.
Countries listed under Level 4 — the highest level — are deemed by the CDC to have a very high level of COVID incidence and should be avoided by all travelers, even if fully vaccinated and boosted.
The agency said that Level 4 will be be reserved for “special circumstances, such as rapidly escalating case trajectory or extremely high case counts, emergence of a new variant of concern, or healthcare infrastructure collapse.”
Levels 1, 2, and 3 (low, moderate, and high) will continue to be based upon 28-day incidence or case counts.
As of Sunday, 89 countries were on the CDC’s Level 4 list, including much of Europe.
The agency said the change was being done “to help the public understand when the highest level of concern is most urgent.”
Airline stocks: Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL), American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL), Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV), United Airlines (NASDAQ:UAL), Alaska Air Group (ALK), JetBlue Airways (JBLU), Spirit Airlines (SAVE), and Hawaiian Holdings (HA).
The CDC’s decision comes as international air travel is starting to pick up and airlines are adding more capacity in anticipation of the summer travel season.