Reversing a directive by the Trump administration, President Joe Biden on Monday will sign an executive order that keeps in place restrictions barring entry by most non-U.S. citizens traveling from the United Kingdom, Brazil, and 26 countries in Europe, and that also bars most travelers from South Africa beginning Saturday, a Biden administration official told Forbes Sunday, aiming to curb the spread of new more infectious—and possibly more deadly—coronavirus variants.
Hours after Trump announced he would lift the restrictions January 26, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration would not follow Trump’s order, asserting that with the “pandemic worsening” it was “not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel.”
“We are adding South Africa to the restricted list because of the concerning variant present that has already spread beyond South Africa,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director, told Reuters Sunday.
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Vaccines may not be as effective against the Covid-19 variant found in South Africa, three preliminary studies have suggested.
It’s not clear how effective travel restrictions are in curbing the spread of the virus and scientists are split about whether it’s a good idea to implement bans at all. Trump repeatedly touted his administration’s “ban” on travel from China during the 2020 campaign, but the restrictions were permeable, late and ineffective.