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EU and US cut Australia from travel lists as Omicron surges

Borders are closing to Australian travellers as the Omicron variant causes one of the biggest surges of COVID-19 cases in the world.
The United States and Europe have this week both downgraded Australia’s travel safety rating, making it significantly harder for Australians to visit. 

The European Council took Australia, Argentina and Canada off its travel green list — where Australia has sat comfortably for most of the pandemic — meaning restrictions on non-essential travel.

The European Council took Australia, Argentina and Canada off its travel green list. (Wikipedia)

“The council updated the list of countries, special administrative regions and other entities and territorial authorities for which travel restrictions should be lifted,” the EU body said, in a statement.

“In particular Argentina, Australia and Canada were removed from the list.

“Non-essential travel to the EU from countries or entities not listed in Annex I is subject to temporary travel restriction.”

Each EU country will now make its own rules on entry requirements including testing and isolation.

The United States has also issued a warning to “avoid travel to Australia”, listing the country at its highest risk rating.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) moved a whopping 22 nations into its highest-risk travel category for COVID-19 this week, in contrast to last week when it moved only two nations to level four or “very high” risk.

Getaway
Australia is one of 22 new countries deemed “very high” risk for travel by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which moved it to their Level 4 list this week (Supplied)

Australian Traveller Media founder Quentin Long told 9News he would expect the international travel outlook to start improving in April or May.

“Spontaneous travel seems to be way off in the future or way off in the past — so look you have to be really organised and understand all the terms and conditions,” he said.

“Testing, when do you have to test? Where do you have to test? How do you prove your test? What do you have to report? What happens if you do fall sick?

“In 2022, it will be a big domestic travel year again. If I were Australians, I’d be booking all my domestic travel right now.”

Argentina, which has also maintained some of the strictest border controls during most of the pandemic, was among the other countries to be moved to the US’ level four restrictions list.

CDC COVID-19 travel map
The CDC does not include the United States in its list of advisories, but it was colour-coded at level four on January 18 on the agency’s map of travel risk levels. (CDC)

The CDC places a destination at level four when more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents are registered in the past 28 days. The CDC advises travellers to avoid travel to Level 4 countries.

A decision on reopening the quarantine-free travel bubble with New Zealand has also been pushed back until the end of next month.

While it may be more difficult to get away, it is now easier for Australians to get home.

Sydney Harbour is hosting a historic party this morning as five cruise ships journey into town.<br><br>The spectacular sight began at sunrise as the P&amp;O Cruises ships united in a V-formation before slowly making their way in the harbour.<br><strong><br>Click through for more images of the ships.&nbsp;</strong>

IN PICTURES: Sydney wakes up to five cruise ship spectacular

International arrivals no longer need a PCR test to enter Australia, instead a rapid test within 24 hours of departure will be accepted.

If travellers contract COVID-19 overseas, they only have to wait seven days instead of 14 before flying home.

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