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Travel plans this summer? CDC updates international travel guidance

Doug Shupe with AAA said travel has rapidly grown from January to May.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Do you have travel plans this summer? The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its international travel guidance to give more country-specific advice for both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.

“I'm looking forward to finally getting out," said traveler Amanda Vallans. "Like this is my first time traveling this weekend.”

Like Vallans, many people are feeling more confident in traveling this summer to popular places like Hawaii, Alaska and Mexico. But some are still waiting.

“I put travel plans on pause…with hopes of seeing places around the world again," said JD Itri. 

Doug Shupe with AAA said travel has rapidly grown from January to May. In January, 55% of people surveyed said they wanted to travel more. Shupe said that number grew to 77%.

“In fact, 2022 may be the busiest travel time we have seen ever," Shupe said. 

“We're going to Hawaii next month and the restrictions on getting in - it's crazy - to get tested, and no inner travel on the islands to protect the island itself but they are taking all the precautions necessary,” traveler Morgan Berman said.

Shupe said Hawaii requires a COVID-19 test upon entry. Once Hawaii hits a 60% vaccination rate, the state will lift its pre-arrival testing requirements for fully vaccinated domestic US travelers. Hawaii is currently at a 55% vaccination rate.

The CDC released new travel advice for more than 120 countries. On its international travel guidance list, which includes Mexico, Brazil and Costa Rica, “they set this tier level with level 4 being don’t travel at all,” Shupe said.

The CDC's threat levels are determined by the number of COVID-19 cases in a given country. At each level, the CDC recommends getting vaccinated, but its guidance varies by how severe the pandemic is in each country.

“I definitely have conflicted feelings," said Itri. "I got vaccinated, and feel comfortable doing so. I know some people don’t feel comfortable doing so and I think people should be respectful of those kinds of feelings."

The CDC recommends avoiding travel to countries at level 4, the highest threat level. The update has 33 countries including Belize, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Iceland to the lowest risk category. 

“Well I still want to go to Mexico - trying to figure out what the deal is down there,” said Itri.

Mexico is in the high-risk category. The CDC travelers advises to be fully vaccinated before traveling there.  And unvaccinated travelers should avoid non-essential travel to Mexico.

“Bottom line is the decision to travel is a personal one," said Shupe. "Overall we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”