The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it has dropped its ‘Do Not Travel’ Covid-19 recommendations for about 90 international destinations, including Ireland.
ast week, the CDC said it was revising its travel recommendations and said it would reserve Level 4 travel health notices “for special circumstances, such as rapidly escalating case trajectory or extremely high case counts.”
The countries and other regions dropped to ‘Level 3: High,’ which still discourages travel by unvaccinated Americans, include Ireland, the UK, most of Europe, Israel, Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand.
US citizens travelling to Ireland are now advised to “make sure you are up to date with your Covid-19 vaccines before travelling”.
The CDC currently lists no countries at ‘Level 4’, a category it has renamed ‘Special Circumstances/Do Not Travel’.
The US State Department said last week it was also planning to sharply cut back on ‘Do Not Travel’ advisories for international destinations.
Of about 215 countries and territories that it rates, the department currently lists nearly 120 at ‘Level Four: Do Not Travel’, including Ireland, much of Europe, Japan, Israel and Russia.
It said its update, also expected this week, “will leave approximately 10pc of all travel advisories at Level 4 ” including all risk factors, not just Covid.
Both State Department and CDC travel advisories are issued as guidance, rather than a legal requirement to travellers.
However, they can have a dampening effect on leisure and business travel, and any easing of advisories is likely to be welcomed by a recovering Irish tourism industry.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration will no longer enforce a US mask mandate on public transportation, after a federal judge in Florida ruled that the 14-month-old directive was unlawful.
United Airlines, American, Delta, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines said masks are now optional on their planes.
National train line Amtrak also relaxed restrictions with immediate effect.
The move could impact travel demand, which has roared back after a blip caused by the Omicron coronavirus variant.
US passenger traffic has been averaging about 89pc of pre-pandemic levels since mid-February, according to TSA data.
Last week, US health officials had extended the mandate to May 3, but administration officials said that while the agencies were assessing potential next steps, the court’s decision meant it was no longer in effect.
The ruling comes as Covid-19 infections rise again in the US, with 36,251 new infections reported on average each day, and 460 daily deaths, based on a seven-day average – the highest number of reported total Covid-19 deaths in the world.
The White House called the ruling “disappointing”, and could still opt to appeal the order or seek an emergency delay in its enforcement.
The CDC recommends that people continue to wear masks in indoor public transportation settings.
– Additional reporting by Mike Stone, Jeff Mason and Jason Lange, Rajesh Kumar Singh, Pól Ó Conghaile