The U.S. State Department on Tuesday loosened travel warnings for many countries, among them Greece, which is now “reconsider travel” from previous category 4 “do not travel.”
In a statement, the department said it was updating the advisories after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed the methodology for its travel health notices.
Tuesday’s change will “provide U.S. travelers detailed and actionable information to make informed travel decisions,” the department said.
It amounted to the first major relaxation of such warnings since the agency slapped a Level 4 travel advisory on the entire globe in March 2020 as the 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.
Airlines and some nations have complained that current travel restrictions to the U.S. are out of step with rising vaccination rates and the reduced threat of contracting COVID-19, and many limits on U.S. travelers remain in place.
“We have heard very clearly the desire of our friends in Europe and the U.K. 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 U.S., 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.
Record number of direct flights to Greece
With well more than a hundred million Americans now being fully vaccinated, the interest in traveling to Greece after the long months of the pandemic is increasing all the time.
As a result, major tour operators and airlines have added a record-high number of new direct flights to the country to meet the burgeoning demand.
“This summer we have more direct flights from the US than we’ve ever had, which shows that Americans want to travel to Greece,” the Greek Prime Minister noted earlier in June.
Last week, the first direct flight to Greece from American Airlines landed on Friday at Eleftherios Venizelos Airport in Athens.
This summer there will be four to five direct flights a day from New York by a number of different airlines. Two or three will depart from JFK airport, and two will take off from Newark Airport.
There will also be direct flights from Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Washington DC.
Delta Air Lines has added two routes from the United States to Greece, one departing from New York and the other from Atlanta.
Delta said in an announcement that the move was taken as part of its efforts to respond to its customers’ interests in destinations around the world.
United Airlines also recently announced more transatlantic flights to Croatia, Greece, and Iceland, all of which have flung open Europe’s doors to Americans. United has added flights from Newark Airport and Dulles International Airport in Washington DC.