South African’s hoping to visit the United States will need to reconsider their plans, as President Joe Biden has imposed an entry ban on any non-U.S. citizens entering the country who have recently been in South Africa.
The new regulation will go into effect on Saturday, January 30 and will be implemented as a way to contain the spread of a new variant of COVID-19 called 501Y.V2, which was first detected in South Africa on December 18 2020.
‘We are adding South Africa to the restricted list because of the concerning variant present that has already spread beyond South Africa,’ said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director, in an interview with Reuters on Sunday.
Dr Schuchat added that the CDC was putting these measures into place to protect the population from the new 501Y.V2 variant. The travel ban will also be used as a way to reduce the risk of spreading the new variant and ‘worsening the current pandemic’.
The 501Y.V2 variant is believed to be 50% more infectious than COVID-19 and has already been detected in at least 60 countries around the world, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Along with South Africa, Biden has also reimposed an entry ban on all non-U.S. travelers who have recently been to Brazil, the UK, Ireland and 26 other countries in Europe that allow travel across open borders, according to Reuters.
The South African 501Y.V2 variant has not yet been detected in the United States, but around 20 different US states have detected a variant of the virus known as B.1.1.7, which is believed to come from the UK.
Exclusive: Biden to impose South Africa travel ban to combat new COVID-19 variant – sources https://t.co/VLRKDJdVw0 pic.twitter.com/ngvZVUXwmh
— Reuters (@Reuters) January 24, 2021
Additional new regulations
Biden’s fight against all variants of the COVID-19 virus didn’t stop at just implementing a travel ban. The US president also issued an executive order directing all federal agencies to require international air travelers to quarantine upon arrival into the U.S.
The Biden administration also implemented a new regulation that requires all US-bound passengers ages 2 and above to get negative COVID-19 test results within three days before traveling.
Ending the ‘Muslim ban’
On Wednesday, January 20 2021, President Biden announced in an executive order that he will be ending the ban on travelers from several majority-Muslim countries.
‘Beyond contravening our values, these Executive Orders and Proclamations have undermined our national security,’ Biden’s executive order rescinding the ban reads. ‘They have jeopardized our global network of alliances and partnerships and are a moral blight that has dulled the power of our example the world over. And they have separated loved ones, inflicting pain that will ripple for years to come’.
The ban on travellers from Muslim countries first came into effect under the Trump administration in January 2017.
Under the new Executive Orders, Biden said he wanted his secretary of state and Homeland Security director to provide a review of current vetting procedures and information-sharing along with recommendations for revising them.