The Biden administration will re-impose a travel ban on most non-American citizens entering the country from the UK, most European countries, and Brazil. South Africa will also be added to the list, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
The move is designed to “reduce the spread of COVID-19 through travel,” said Psaki, “especially as we see faster-spreading variants emerging across the world.”
Last year, scientists in the UK discovered a new variant of CCP virus, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, which is believed to spread faster than the original one that emerged in 2019 in mainland China. Officials have also sounded the alarm about a strain of the CCP virus that emerged recently in South Africa.
“We are adding South Africa to the restricted list because of the concerning variant present that has already spread beyond South Africa,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s principal deputy director, in a Reuters interview on Sunday.
The CDC is “putting in place this suite of measures to protect Americans and also to reduce the risk of these variants spreading and worsening the current pandemic,” Schuchat added.
Recently, the CDC determined that South Africa is “experiencing widespread, ongoing person-to-person transmission” of the B.1.351 strain of the virus, while Brazil has its own variant known as B.220.127.116.11, according to a proclamation from Biden on the White House website, which listed exemptions to the travel rule.
It came after former President Donald Trump directed on Jan. 18 to rescind travel restrictions on Brazil and Europe. Biden’s proclamation effectively will undo Trump’s executive order made last week.
All passengers entering the United States will have to clear a CCP virus test that must be administered no more than 72 hours prior to the scheduled departure time to the United States, according to Psaki.