Is Aruba Open for Travel? Guidance Explained as CDC Says to Avoid Island

Federal authorities have urged U.S. citizens not to travel to the popular holiday destination of Aruba due to the number of COVID cases there.

On January 4, the U.S. Department of State issued a travel advisory stating that Aruba, a Caribbean island, had been issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice due to "a very high level of COVID-19 in the country."

"Do not travel to Aruba due to COVID-related conditions," the department added.

On the same day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its own notice urging people to "avoid travel to Aruba" and raised its travel health notice for the island to level 4—the highest level.

It warned that "even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants."

However, Aruba is technically still open for travel. Several flights are available to the island from the U.S. as soon as this weekend.

The CDC notes: "If you must travel to Aruba, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel."

The CDC's Travel Health Notice Levels are determined using COVID data submitted to the World Health Organization. If a destination has had more than 500 new cases over the past 28 days per 100,000 population, then it is at level 4.

A destination is at level 3 if it has had between 100 and 500 new cases over the past 28 days per 100,000 people.

Following Advice in Aruba

The Department of State's travel advisory levels aren't specific to COVID, but can be assigned for a number of risks including civil unrest, natural disasters or health risks like disease outbreaks.

Regarding travel to Aruba, the CDC also said that travelers should follow the recommendations or requirements in Aruba, including wearing a mask and staying 6 feet apart from others.

The government of Aruba has mandatory entry requirements that travelers should read before going there.

"Anyone traveling to Aruba from a location classified as high-risk will need to complete the PCR testing requirement 2 days prior to departure to Aruba regardless of vaccination status and will not have the option to test upon arrival in Aruba," VisitAruba.com states.

The U.S. was deemed high-risk by the Aruba Health Department with effect from December 27.

Countries on Level 4 List

It's not the first level 4 travel notice that the CDC has assigned recently. Dozens of other countries are on that list, and some of them have been on it for several months.

Last week, the health agency also posted a level 4 travel notice urging people against traveling on cruise ships even if they are fully vaccinated, stating that "even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants."

In response, the Cruise Lines International Association said in a statement shared with Newsweek last week: "The decision by the CDC to raise the travel level for cruise is particularly perplexing considering that cases identified on cruise ships consistently make up a very slim minority of the total population onboard—far fewer than on land—and the majority of those cases are asymptomatic or mild in nature, posing little to no burden on medical resources onboard or onshore."

Airplane on runway
A file photo showing an aerial view of a passenger airplane on a runway. The CDC has assigned level 4 travel notices to dozens of countries due to the COVID pandemic. Chalabala/Getty