President Joe Biden’s administration is weighing the possibility of lifting COVID-19 Omicron variant-related restrictions on travel from eight African countries, including South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
Announced late last month, the restrictions came just weeks after the U.S. reopened to international travel on November 8.
As part of the current ban, most non-U.S. citizens who have been in the aforementioned countries within the past 14 days are prohibited from entering the U.S.
“We put the travel ban on just to see how much time we had before it hit here so we can begin to decide what we needed by looking at what’s happening in other countries,” Biden said, referring to Omicron during an address to the nation on Tuesday. “But we’re past that now. And so it’s something that is being raised with me by the docs now, and I’ll have an answer for that soon.”
While Americans are not banned from visiting South Africa and the other restricted countries, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to encourage that they avoid travel, reporting a very high level of COVID-19.
Earlier this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to The White House, rejected the idea of restoring travel bans on international travelers to slow the spread of the virus, telling the National Press Club that “when you get to the point when there’s enough of a virus in your own country, it doesn’t really make any sense of trying to keep it out.”
For the latest insight on travel around the world, check out this interactive guide:
For the latest travel news, updates, and deals, be sure to subscribe to the daily TravelPulse newsletter here.