The United States is no longer telling citizens to not travel anywhere overseas — but there’s a hidden problem for Americans hoping to jet off abroad.
While Americans have not been outright banned from leaving the country as Australians, the US government has recommended citizens against travelling overseas during the pandemic.
Overnight, the US State Department and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) both dropped their blanket “do not travel” advisory to almost all countries, instead giving out specific advice country by country.
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About 30 high-risk destinations remain at “do not travel”, including India, Russia, Iran, Libya, Dominican Republic, El Salvador and a number of other countries across South America and the Caribbean.
Most countries are now at a level 3 “reconsider travel” advisory, including Australia, while a handful of low-risk countries have been deemed safe for Americans to visit, including New Zealand, Thailand and Fiji.
The problem is, while the changed advice provides more opportunities for Americans to travel overseas, most countries don’t want them.
The US is still negotiating with the European Union to allow Americans to return, after the country was sensationally excluded from the EU’s list of safe countries whose residents are allowed back.
Australia was on the EU’s list, however our own closed border means we can’t travel internationally except with special permission from the Federal Government.
Meanwhile Canada and the US have extended their historic border closure and only some eligible Americans are able to cross the border.
Americans are allowed in some Mexican states but the land border remains closed.
China and Japan have banned all travellers from the US, as have Australia and New Zealand, who have both closed borders to all foreign visitors. This is despite the US deeming New Zealand a safe destination to visit.
Even the Bahamas, a popular destination for American holiday-makers — has specifically banned entry to US travellers following a surge in cases after it reopened its borders on July 1.
The list of countries Americans can travel to is quite short, and most come with strict conditions, such as 14-day quarantine on entry, or proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
According to CNN, those countries include nine Caribbean nations — including Jamaica, which relies heavily on US tourism dollars — as well as the UK, the United Arab Emirates, Maldives, Turkey, Cambodia, and a smattering of countries in eastern Europe and Africa.
America being black-listed by much of the world — effectively becoming a “pariah nation”, as one commentator put it — has been attributed to the country’s soaring infection rates and staggering death toll, and criticism over the US government’s handling of the crisis.
“America has done such a poor job of controlling the COVID-19 outbreak that our infection rate is increasing dramatically while that of most European nations is either remaining stable or decreasing,” American novelist Francine Prose wrote in The Guardian in June.
“We’re simply too dangerous – too likely to bring the deadly virus along with the more welcome (and needed) tourist dollars.”
A recent analysis of the world’s passports by citizenship firm Henley and Partners found the US passport has slumped in power thanks to the EU ban in particular, now wielding about as much power as those of less developed nations such as Uruguay and Mexico.
Henley and Partners said America’s omission from the EU list was a move perceived as a “stinging rebuke for its poor handling of the pandemic” and had prompted an “extraordinary shift” in passport power.
“In 2014, (the US passport) held the number one spot in the world on our index, but US nationals currently have far less travel freedom than most citizens of other wealthy, industrialised nations and even of some less developed nations, being effectively locked out of Europe,” Henley and Partners chairman Christian H. Kaelin said.
“We see an emergence of a new global hierarchy in terms of mobility, with countries that have effectively managed the pandemic taking the lead, and countries that have handled it poorly falling behind.”