Washington: Newly elect US president Joe Biden re-imposed ban on travellers from Europe and Brazil on Monday, adding South Africa in the list.
The travel restrictions came into effect in view of a more infectious coronavirus variant outbreak known as 501Y.V2 or B1351. The White House on Monday night (South African time) confirmed that this new travel ban will come into effect from January 30, 2021.
“The President is taking these steps on the advice of his COVID-19 and medical team,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at her daily press briefing.
“President Biden has decided to maintain the restrictions previously in place for the European Schengen area, the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and Brazil,” Ms. Psaki said.
With the pandemic worsening and more contagious variants spreading, this isn’t the time to lift restrictions on international travel, Ms. Psaki said.
“And in light of the contagious variant B1351, South Africa has been added to the restricted list,” she said.
Negative test compulsory for travellers
“Additionally, beginning January 26, international travellers to the United States must provide proof of a negative test within three days of travel to airlines prior to departure,” asserting, this applies regardless of citizenship, she said.
The State Department said U.S. citizens should avoid non-essential travel abroad, while, those who must travel abroad should carefully consider the strict implementation of the travel restrictions.
“Many individuals infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 are asymptomatic and unaware they carry the virus. If you test positive, you will not be able to return home as planned. What plan do you have in case you cannot come home for several weeks? Where will you stay? How will you finance your stay,” it said.
Responding to a question on these restriction similar to that of Mr. Trump, Ms. Psaki said, “I don’t think that’s quite a fair articulation. The President has been clear that he felt the Muslim ban was xenophobic. He overturned the Muslim ban. He also, though, has supported — and himself, even before — or we did, I should say, even before he was inaugurated — steps, travel restrictions in order to keep the American people safe to ensure that we are getting the pandemic under control. That’s been part of his policy,” she said.
“But he was critical of the former President for having a policy that was not more comprehensive than travel restrictions. He conveyed at the time, and more recently, the importance of having a multifaceted approach — mask wearing, vaccine distribution funding — in order to get 100 million shots in the arms of Americans in the first hundred days, not just travel restrictions,” Ms. Psaki further added.