President Joe Biden announced new travel restrictions due to the omicron variant of COVID. Here’s which countries it affects, how long it’ll last and more.
The World Health Organization labeled the omicron coronavirus variant a “variant of concern” on Nov. 24, sparking worries that another new wave of COVID-19 might land in the middle of a travel-filled and close-quartered holiday season. Out of concern for what omicron’s “variant of concern” label means — that it could be more contagious than the highly transmissible delta variant, or that it might make our vaccines less effective against COVID-19 — the US issued a travel ban for eight countries where omicron is circulating, effective Monday.
CNET HEALTH AND WELLNESS
“As a precautionary measure until we have more information, I am ordering additional air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries,” President Joe Biden said on Nov. 26 when he announced the travel ban. “As we move forward, we will continue to be guided by what the science and my medical team
So, what does this mean for you? Here’s what we know so far about the travel ban.
Which countries does the travel ban affect?
Travel is restricted to and from eight countries in southern Africa where there are hot spots of COVID-19 cases fueled by the new variant. South Africa (the country which first reported the new variant to the WHO), Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi are included in the ban. This means residents or travelers from those countries can’t fly into the US if they’ve been in one of the restricted countries within the last 14 days, according to Biden’s proclamation.
If an American is currently in a country under the travel ban, can they fly back?
Yes, according to remarks made by Biden on Friday. US citizens and permanent residents may travel home with a negative COVID19 test
According to a report by NBC, there are five flights per week between Newark and Johannesburg this week by United Airlines, as well as three United Airlines flights per week between Dulles, in Washington DC, and Accra, Ghana. United will also restart service between Newark and Cape Town on Dec. 1, NBC reported.
On its website, Delta airlines said it currently operates service between Johannesburg and Atlanta three times a week with “no planned adjustments to service at this time.”
When will the travel ban be lifted?
It’s unknown right now. When he issued the ban, Biden said he would be “guided by the world health organization recommended
Do travel bans work?
Some have criticized the travel ban from south African countries, saying it unfairly punishes a region that quickly identified a new coronavirus variant and shared its data with the global scientific community. Canada, Germany, the UK and many more countries have identified cases of omicron within their borders so far.
“There is very little utility of these kinds of bans,” Saad Omer, director of the Yale Institute of Global Health, told NPR, adding that the “horse has probably left the barn.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the president, told NBC that while we haven’t detected omicron in the US yet, a variant that appears to be this transmissible “is ultimately going to go essentially all over.”
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.