Delta variant travel restrictions: World grows increasingly anxious
(CNN) — The 2021 summer travel season started out full of hope and promise, but by the day, two words are threatening to dismantle it all.
From new travel advisories issued this week to Google searches on the topic in the past 24 hours, it’s clear the Delta variant is causing increasing worry and disruptions for governments and would-be travelers.
New US travel advisories
The Alfama district can be seen in Lisbon. The US moved Portugal to a “Level 4: Do not travel” advisory on Monday.
Patricia de Melo Moreira/AFP via Getty Images
On Monday, the US State Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new advisories for five nations, citing the rise in Covid-19 cases:
Other places you’re advised not to visit
The pandemic has hit São Paulo and the rest of Brazil hard.
Spain and Portugal join a growing list of popular travel destinations in the “Level 4: Do not travel” category, which is the highest on the State Department’s scale. Level 4 is also the highest alert for the CDC.
Some of the other places on Level 4 as of Tuesday that are traditionally popular with travelers around the world:
White House: Existing restrictions will stay for now
More evidence of the mounting concern and its effect on travel:
On Monday, the White House decided to keep existing coronavirus travel restrictions in place, press secretary Jen Psaki said.
“We will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point for a few reasons. The more transmissible Delta variant is spreading both here and around the world,” Psaki told reporters. “Driven by the Delta variant, cases are rising here at home, particularly among those who are unvaccinated and appear likely to continue in the weeks ahead.”
The announcement came as the Biden administration has been under growing pressure from the travel industry and US allies to lift restrictions limiting who can travel to the US.
What people want to know — on Google at least
Mexico has maintained a rather liberal travel policy during the pandemic. This is a general view of the Templo Mayor archaeological area, a popular tourist spot in Mexico City.
Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images
If you want to know what’s on people’s collective minds, just check Google searches. The Delta variant is a rising trend.
Other rising searches around the world focused on restrictions for particular places: Victoria (Australia) and Mexico were on top.
People across the world were also looking at the US for guidance on broader concerns with searches for “US International restrictions” or “CDC restrictions” also rising in the past day.
There was a 450% increase in search in 24 hours for the term “Spain travel advisory,” spurred by Monday’s announcement. And also big spikes for more general international searches such as “Can US citizens travel to Europe?”
The answer to that second query varies by country and by day as restrictions are constantly changing. But most of Europe — including heavyweights such as France and Germany — opened up to US citizens earlier this summer and remained open Tuesday despite the US travel ban still blocking many Europeans.
Greece is a rising search term on Google in the UK. And it’s open for people there who’d like to visit places in Greece such as Santorini.
UK searches: In the United Kingdom, the United States and Greece were of the highest international interest.
For UK travelers eager to visit America, the ban is still in effect for them.