President Biden will remove the ban on travel between the United States and countries in southern Africa at midnight on Dec. 31, a senior administration official said on Friday, reversing restrictions imposed last month to combat the spread of the Omicron variant.
The region’s leaders had denounced the ban as unfair, discriminatory and unnecessary.
Mr. Biden made the decision this week on the advice of his medical team based on findings that existing Covid vaccines are effective against severe disease with the highly contagious Omicron variant, especially among people who have received a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, the senior official said in an email.
The decision followed the British government’s announcement on Tuesday that it was lifting its restrictions on travelers arriving from 11 African countries.
Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also advised Mr. Biden and his team that Omicron, which has passed Delta as the dominant variant in the United States, was so widely present across the world that it no longer made sense to restrict travel to and from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia, the official said.
Pfizer, Centers for Disease Control
United States, Africa, South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia