US does not anticipate further omicron travel restrictions

Nov 29, 2021

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The U.S. does not expect to implement further travel restrictions as a result of the latest COVID-19 variant, President Joe Biden said on Nov. 29, despite warning of the inevitable emergence of the omicron variant at some point in the United States.

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“Sooner or later, we’re going to see cases of this new variant here in the United States,” Biden told reporters in a press conference on Monday, while also noting that a “significant number of cases” due to the new variant would be cause for future travel bans.

Last week, the Biden administration suspended entry to the United States by travelers from eight South African nations, including South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The temporary ban applies to those who have been in the affected countries within 14 days of attempted entry to the U.S. and does not include American citizens or permanent residents.

As of Nov. 29, non-U.S. citizens coming from the above countries, in addition to Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi, are restricted from entering the U.S. with limited exceptions.

President Biden said he doesn’t “anticipate” additional travel restrictions at “this point,” which he said will be based on “the degree of the spread [of the variant].”

The new omicron variant, which has also been detected in South Africa, Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong, Israel and the United Kingdom, has not yet been detected in the U.S.

On Monday, the president urged Americans to continue to get vaccinated, while deeming the new variant a “cause for concern, not panic.” Forthcoming lockdowns or shutdowns are unlikely, he said.

Omicron has been deemed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization because it is less responsive to COVID-19 vaccines and may be more contagious than variants we’ve seen thus far.

Read more: Visitors to the UK must take PCR test after arrival: Omicron cases confirmed

Featured photo of U.S. President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden and others stepping off Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Nov. 28 by Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg/Getty Images.

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