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US eases travel warning for Japan ahead of Olympics, France, Germany, others

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The US State Department loosened its travel warnings for dozens of nations including France, Canada and Germany, in a move that could ease airline restrictions for people wanting to go overseas as the coronavirus pandemic wanes in parts of the world.

The department changed its travel warnings Tuesday for nearly 60 nations and territories from level 4, or “do not travel,” to level 3, “reconsider travel,” according to the agency’s website. In a statement, the department said it was updating the advisories after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed the methodology for its travel health notices.

Countries affected by the latest change included France, Canada, Japan, Mexico, South Korea and Singapore. Another 16 nations were downgraded from level 3 to level 2, or “exercise increased caution,” while about a dozen were lowered to level 1 — “exercise normal caution.”

Tuesday’s change will “provide US travellers detailed and actionable information to make informed travel decisions,” the Department said. It amounted to the first major relaxation of such warnings since the Department slapped a Level 4 travel advisory on the entire globe in March 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic gained speed.

The advisories aren’t binding but can help airlines and other nations set their own restrictions for travel. Other countries often reciprocate for American citizens based on the department’s advisories.

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The move comes days before President Joe Biden plans to visit the UK for a Group of 7 meeting and as Vice President Kamala Harris visited Mexico. Airlines and some nations have complained that current travel restrictions to the US are out of step with rising vaccination rates and the reduced threat of contracting Covid-19, and many limits on US travellers remain in place.

“We have heard very clearly the desire of our friends in Europe and the UK to be able to reopen travel across the Atlantic Ocean, and we want to see that happen,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday. “But we have to follow the science, and we have to follow the guidance of our public health professionals. We’re actively engaging them to determine the time frame.”

In the US, new infections are at the lowest levels since the pandemic began in March 2020. Weekly cases worldwide have been declining for six weeks as the outbreak in India wanes and global vaccination efforts ramp up.

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This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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