The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and State Department is warning Americans not to travel to the United Kingdom, designating the UK as "Level 4," its highest warning level, just as the country began to loosen COVID-19 restrictions.
The CDC warned U.S. residents to "avoid travel" to the UK and said for those who have to go, to make sure they are fully vaccinated. This is in addition to the continued restrictions on non-essential travel for non-U.S. citizens from several countries around the world, including from the UK.
"Because of the current situation in the United Kingdom, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants," the agency wrote in its advisory.
Beyond the CDC, the State Department also raised the UK to its highest travel warning level on Monday.
The warning comes as the UK celebrated lifting coronavirus restrictions throughout the country on Monday in what has been dubbed "Freedom Day." The country waived quarantine restrictions for fully vaccinated Brits who travel back to the UK from "amber" destinations, including the United States, as well as eliminated capacity restrictions and lifted mask requirements.
Hollie Adams/Bloomberg via Getty Images Commuters at London's Waterloo Station on July 19.
Celebrations were dampened by the fact that the UK's Prime Minister Boris Johnson remained quarantined after having come into contact with someone infected with COVID-19, and by the tens of thousands of new cases being recorded each day.
"If we don't open up now, then we face a risk of even tougher conditions in the coming months when the virus has a natural advantage," Johnson said in a video news conference. "There comes a point after so many have been vaccinated when further restrictions no longer prevent hospitalizations and deaths but simply delay the inevitable. And so we have to ask ourselves the question, 'If not now, when?'"
On Monday alone, more than 39,000 people were infected and 19 people died, according to the UK government.
In the UK, 87.9% of adults 18 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine and 68.5% have received two doses, according to the government.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.