Biden Set To Reimpose Travel Ban On UK And EU Over New Coronavirus Variant Fears
President Joe Biden is set to reimpose a travel ban against non-US travellers from the United Kingdom and 26 countries in Europe in an effort to prevent the spread of a new coronavirus variant.
Donald Trump made the decision to lift travel restrictions between the US and Brazil and Europe two days before he concluded his term on January 20.
The restrictions were set to be lifted on Tuesday, but Biden is set to reverse the move through an executive order signed today, January 25.
Effective Saturday, January 29, the ban will also impact most non-US citizens entering the country from South Africa, and those who have recently been in South Africa.
Biden’s decision to impose the restrictions comes as part of his efforts to crack down on the coronavirus outbreak following the much-criticised response of the Trump administration. The move hopes to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa.
Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director, said:
We are adding South Africa to the restricted list because of the concerning variant present that has already spread beyond South Africa.
Per Reuters, she added that the agency was putting the measures in place ‘to protect Americans and also to reduce the risk of these variants spreading and worsening the current pandemic.’
The South African variant, known as the 501Y.V2 variant, is said to be 50% more infectious and has been detected in at least 20 countries. CDC officials have stressed that they would be open to adding additional countries to the list if needed.
The variant does not yet appear to have spread to the US, though at least 20 US states have reported a UK variant known as B.1.1.7.
As of tomorrow, new CDC rules require all international air travellers aged two and older to present a negative coronavirus test taken within three calendar days of travel or proof of recovery from coronavirus in order to be granted entry to the US. The UK has implemented a similar scheme in an effort to prevent incoming cases.
As well as imposing the travel ban, CDC director head Rochelle Walensky is set to sign a separate order today, which will make protective fact coverings a requirement on all airplanes, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-share vehicles for all travellers ages two and older.
The new requirements will come into effect in the coming days, according to officials cited by Reuters. Masks can be removed for brief periods while eating or drinking.
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