Joe Biden is currently underway making some big changes to America’s strategy in fighting the pandemic.
One of those changes includes cracking down on open borders and subjecting a long list of countries to tougher travel restrictions and requirements for entering the states. South Africa, however, will face a total travel ban.
As reported by Reuters, Biden will impose a ban on most non-U.S. citizens entering the country who have recently been in South Africa.
“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 Sunday.
According to reports, Biden will also reimpose an entry ban on nearly all non-U.S. travellers who have been in Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland and 26 countries in Europe that allow travel across open borders.
There has been growing concern over the South African COVID variant, known as 501Y.V2. Discovered here in SA, the variant is 50% more infectious and has been detected in over 20 countries.
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The South African variant has not been detected in the United States yet, but at least 20 U.S. states have detected a UK variant known as B.1.1.7.
While current vaccines appear to still be effective against the UK variants, some health officials are concerned that current vaccines may not be effective against the South Africa strain.
The USA joins a list of other countries who have also imposed strict travel bans on South Africa. These territories include:
- KLM Royal Dutch airlines announce the discontinuation of flights to and from South Africa after the Dutch government placed a travel ban on the country.
- The United Arab Emirates announce travel restrictions for South Africa and a number of other countries. Under the restrictions, travellers will not be able to enter Dubai if they have been in South Africa within 10 days of departure to Dubai or emirates. This includes transiting in other countries within 10 days before travelling to Dubai.
- The UK has extended its travel ban until 15 February 2021, with British Airways halting additional flight bookings from South Africa.
- Vietnam’s health and transport ministries announced an immediate suspension of flights from both South African and the UK.
- Denmark’s justice ministry announced that “foreigners residing in South Africa will be refused entry,” as part of its travel ban.
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that all commercial flights from Britain, Denmark and South Africa had been suspended. Any travellers returning to Israel, who had spent any period of time in either Britain, Denmark or South Africa in the past 30-days, will be subject to a mandatory quarantine period.
- Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced a temporary ban on all flights from Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, and South Africa, citing dangers of the new Covid-19 variant.
- Mauritius confirmed that any person who had resided or travelled through the UK or South Africa in the last 15 days would be banned from entering the island nation.
- The Central American nation of Panama announced that travellers from the UK and South Africa would be barred entry, effective from Monday 21 December.
*Please note, this information is subject to change. Make sure to periodically check travel advisory boards and announcements for updates to regulations and restrictions.