President Biden reinforces Trump administration’s travel ban, adds South Africa to the list

Jan 25, 2021

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President Biden has doubled down on the ban on non-U.S. travelers from Brazil, England, Ireland and 26 additional countries across Europe, known as the Schengen Area. This effort will help the U.S. continue to fight to contain the continuing COVID-19 surge, a U.S. public health official confirmed to Reuters on Sunday. Biden will also add South Africa to that list of countries.

The original ban orders that most foreigners who have visited one of the restricted countries in the past 14 days not be allowed to enter the United States. The South Africa portion of the ban will go into effect on Saturday, Jan. 30.

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South Africa is being added to the list because of the “concerning” COVID-19 variant spreading in the region. “The South African variant, also known as the 501Y.V2 variant, is 50% more infectious and has been detected in at least 20 countries,” according to Reuters.

The ban originally enacted by the Trump administration in March of 2020 was scheduled to expire on Tuesday.

The Schengen Area includes the following 26 countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Related: What is the Schengen Area and what European countries are included?

Although we knew Biden would extend the ban, this is still likely to leave travelers in the lurch.

The ban follows one of Biden’s first actions as president: to make wearing a mask mandatory while traveling domestically, as deaths from COVID-19 in the United States exceed 400,000, as TPG’s Victoria Walker previously reported. President Biden signed an executive order on Jan. 21 requiring that masks be worn on “many” airplanes, trains, buses and during all interstate travel, calling mask-wearing a “patriotic duty.” Previously, there was no federal requirement to wear a mask in public spaces.

In addition, the U.S. recently announced that, as of Jan. 26, all U.S.-bound international travelers will need to have a negative COVID-19 test result in order to enter. All passengers returning to the U.S. will also need to self-quarantine upon arrival according to current CDC regulations.

Feature image by Alex Kraus/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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