US travel restrictions for more than 110 countries have been eased – including Japan just ahead of the Olympics.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) new ratings include 61 nations that were lowered from its highest Level 4 that discouraged all travel to recommending travel for fully vaccinated individuals.

Among those now listed at Level 3 are France, Ecuador, the Philippines, South Africa, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Honduras, Hungary and Italy.

An additional 50 countries and territories have been lowered to Level 2 or Level 1.

Countries ranked lowest for COVID-19 risks now include Singapore, Israel, South Korea, Iceland, Belize and Albania.

The US State Department said it had updated its recommendations to reflect a recent methodology update.

The agency said the new criteria for a Level 4 “avoid all travel” recommendation has changed to 500 cases per 100,000 from 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000.

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The agency added that many countries have lower ratings “because of the criteria changes or because their outbreaks are better controlled”.

The United States bars nearly all non-US citizens who have been to China, the United Kingdom, Ireland, India, South Africa, Brazil, Iran and the 26 Schengen nations in Europe without border controls within the previous 14 days.

Meanwhile, president Joe Biden’s administration is forming expert working groups with Canada, Mexico, the EU and the UK to determine how best to restart travel safely after 15 months of pandemic restrictions.