The US doesn’t want its citizens travelling to SA – or most other countries in the world

Business Insider SA
US Travel South Africa
US Travel Advisories (Travel.State.Gov)
  • More than 80% of all countries worldwide have been added to the US’ “do not travel” list.
  • The most recent updates are related to the global Covid-19 pandemic and not security-related issues.
  • US visitors were previously advised to “exercise increased caution” when travelling in South Africa.
  • For the past few years, the US has listed violent crime and civil unrest as risk factors in South Africa.
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The United States (US) government is urging its citizens to stay put in a series of updated travel advisories which concern more than 80% of all countries. South Africa is one of them.

Over the last 48-hours, the US Bureau of Consular Affairs has issued more than 200 revised travel advisories. Most of these advisories, which are intended to inform US citizens of their relative safety when visiting foreign countries, have been ratcheted up to Level 4.

This represents the US’ highest level of foreign travel warning. On Tuesday, South Africa was added to the extensive “do not travel” to list.

All these recent advisory updates relate to the Covid-19 pandemic. This coincides with the US’ ongoing travel ban which prohibits visitors from China, Iran, the European Schengen area, the United Kingdom (UK), Ireland, Brazil, and South Africa from entering the country.

US Travel Advisory
US Travel Advisory

Some countries in Africa, like Angola, Eswatini, Nigeria, Morocco, and Malawi remain on a Level 3 alert, which urges US citizens to “reconsider travel”. The travel advisory issued for South Africa’s neighbouring Zimbabwe remains at Level 2, which warns visitors to “exercise increased caution”.

“This does not imply a reassessment of the current health situation in a given country, but rather reflects an adjustment in the State Department’s Travel Advisory system to rely more on Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) existing epidemiological assessments,” the US Department of State explained in a statement.

“Our Advisories also take into account logistical factors, including in-country testing availability and current travel restrictions for US citizens.”

The update has, however, drawn attention to pre-existing risk indicators and travel warnings, which, within the South African context, have been referred to as an overreaction by the US. Prior to the latest coronavirus-related update, South Africa held a Level 2 – “exercise increased caution” – warning.

This advisory was applied, in various forms over the past few years, due to “crime, civil unrest, health, and drought” in South Africa.

The advisory describes violent crime, including robbery, rape, carjacking, mugging, as being prevalent in South Africa. It also mentions the dangers associated with protest action and water shortages in three provinces.

US citizens travelling to South Africa are urged to avoid “walking alone, especially after dark” and “drive with doors locked and windows closed” among a host of other practical safety tips.

These warnings are not, however, limited to South Africa and similar advisories apply to other South American and African nations, some of which, like Zimbabwe, have avoided the move to Level 4.

Most European countries, like France, Germany, and Denmark, which have recently been updated to the highest warning level, were previously marked as Level 2 – the same designation previously applied to South Africa – due to the threat of terrorism.

Approximately 34 countries were listed as Level 4 dangers before the recent advisory update. The US Bureau of Consular Affairs said it would “regularly update our destination-specific advice to US travellers as conditions evolve” with specific reference to the Covid-19 pandemic.

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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