President Joe Biden on Monday reinstated COVID-19 travel restrictions on most non-U.S. travelers from Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom and 26 other European countries that allow travel across open borders. He also added South Africa to the list.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said South Africa was added to the restricted list because of concerns about a variant of the virus that has spread beyond that nation.
“This isn’t the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” Psaki said.
The prohibition Biden is reinstating suspends entry to nearly all foreign nationals who have been in any of the countries on the restricted list at any point during the 14 days before their scheduled travel to the U.S.
Other european countries impacted by reinstatement of the ban are part of the border-free Schengen zone. They include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Biden’s team had announced that he would reimpose the travel restrictions, but the addition of South Africa to the restricted travel list highlights the new administration’s concern about mutations in the virus.
The South Africa variant has not been discovered in the United States, but another variant — originating in the United Kingdom — has been detected in several states.