Last month, when South African health officials announced the omicron variant of COVID-19 was quickly spreading, President Joe Biden almost immediately enacted a travel ban on a number of African countries — a decision that drew criticism for a number of reasons.
But according to the Washington Examiner, now that the spread of omicron has slowed in South Africa, Biden will give the order this week to remove the travel restrictions from eight African countries. The official order is expected to be given on Dec. 31.
The decision to lift the travel restrictions was reportedly influenced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
On Dec. 31, @POTUS will lift the temporary travel restrictions on Southern Africa countries. This decision was recommended by @CDCgov. The restrictions gave us time to understand Omicron and we know our existing vaccines work against Omicron, esp boosted. https://t.co/NdRTtntRuE
— Kevin Munoz (@KMunoz46) December 24, 2021
Rules still in place
Even though the restrictions on travel will be lifted, visitors originating from the countries on the list, like those from other countries, will still be subject to the United States’ rules on COVID-19 and air travel.
Foreign visitors will need to be fully vaccinated, the Examiner noted. Travelers will also be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test no more than one day before departing.
In addition, all air travelers on major airlines are required to wear a mask during travel.
Upon enacting the African travel ban, the president took harsh criticism from a number of conservative pundits and congressmen, as they recalled when former President Donald Trump enacted similar COVID-19-related travel bans at the beginning of the pandemic last year.
Those Trump-enabled restrictions drew intense fire from the left, with some labeling Trump’s actions as “xenophobic,” and “racist.”
President Biden received a free pass when taking the exact same course of action, with most of the mainstream media going as far as celebrating the decision, a direct contrast to how they covered Trump’s initial travel bans.
African officials also expressed outrage at Biden’s travel bans last month, with some claiming that the countries included on the list were being punished, even though South Africa voluntarily — and admirably — shared the news about the omicron variant.
The mainstream media will undoubtedly scramble to cover the next variant, if there is one, as the omicron hysteria finally dies down, given that it’s not nearly as dangerous as the previous delta variant.