President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Monday reinstating travel restrictions against non-U.S. citizens from a number of countries in an effort to slow the spread of a new strain of the coronavirus, the Washington Examiner reported.
Although Biden initially criticized former President Donald Trump’s travel ban on China last January as “xenophobic,” the new president appears to be keeping the ban from China and is re-implementing a ban on travel from other parts of the world as well.
“A wall will not stop the coronavirus. Banning all travel from Europe — or any other part of the world — will not stop it,” Biden said in March last year.
Biden’s travel restrictions will bar non-U.S. citizens from the United Kingdom, South Africa, Ireland, Brazil, and 26 other European countries from entering the United States.
The purpose of these travel restrictions is “to protect Americans and also to reduce the risk of these variants spreading and worsening the current pandemic,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC was specifically referring to new variations of the COVID-19 virus that have appeared in various parts of the world, including South Africa and Britain.
The South African variant is said to be more infectious, but has not spread to the United States yet. The British strain has already been detected in several American states.
“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 of the CDC said.
Biden’s ban renews the restrictions on travel that had been in effect for months, but were set to expire tomorrow after Trump moved to cancel them last Monday.
“With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted of the move.
The CDC is also expected to announce other COVID-related orders this week, in addition to the travel ban.
One of the orders will require those seeking entry to the U.S. to provide either proof of a negative coronavirus test or proof of a previous diagnosis.