Biden Says He’s Considering Lifting U.S. Omicron Travel Ban
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden said he’s considering lifting travel restrictions on people arriving from southern African countries where the omicron variant of coronavirus was first identified, after it became the dominant strain in the U.S.
“I’m considering reversing, I’m going to talk with my team in the next couple days,” Biden told reporters at the White House on Tuesday. He said his health advisers had suggested he reconsider the ban.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday that omicron now accounts for more than 70% of new U.S. cases of Covid-19.
The U.S. government imposed restrictions on people traveling from South Africa and seven other nearby nations on Nov. 29 after the discovery of the new variant. The CDC the next day notified airlines they must provide the names of passengers who had traveled in southern Africa in recent days so that local health agencies could conduct contact tracing.
However successful the travel restrictions may have been in stopping people infected with the omicron variant from entering the U.S., it hasn’t prevented the Covid-19 mutation from rapidly becoming the dominant strain.
Asked about Biden’s comments, Airlines for America, a trade group that represents large carriers, said in an emailed statement that “as the administration has said, the recent omicron-related country-based restrictions were intended to be temporary, not long-term, and will be updated as more data becomes available.”
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