US President Joe Biden will impose a ban on most non-US citizens entering the country who were in South Africa. Starting this Saturday, the ban will augment the existing travel restrictions in place for foreign nationals coming from Brazil, the UK, Ireland, and the European Union.
President Biden to add South Africa travel ban
Reuters reports that a senior US public health official told it that President Biden will impose a ban on most non-US citizens from entering the US who were recently in South Africa. This will be the first added country to the travel ban list under President Biden’s term.
The outgoing Trump Administration announced the lifting of travel restrictions from Brazil and Europe after mandating testing for all inbound international travelers from January 26th. However, President Biden will reverse those decisions and maintain the overall bans.
These bans are separate from President Trump’s travel ban barring the entry of citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries. Commonly dubbed the “Muslim travel ban,” President Biden has already reversed this.
This new ban is in response to a new variant of the coronavirus, which is in over 20 countries. The South African variant is more infectious, and some health officials are concerned about whether the existing coronavirus vaccines are effective against it.
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An aggressive approach to limiting travel
Since taking office, and before then, President Biden has not seemed keen on reopening travel at this point. His focus is on curbing the spread of the virus, which has been running rampant across the United States.
The Biden Administration has already made moves to mandate mask-wearing on public transportation, including planes, when passengers are not actively eating or drinking for a brief period.
In addition, all passengers aged two or older will need to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours from departure or proof of recovery from COVID-19 before being allowed to enter the United States.
Also, the CDC is urging a self-quarantine for seven days upon return to the United States. The Biden Administration is also weighing ways to mandate this quarantine, though it will likely take a bit of time for the new government’s team to formalize a plan.
How will this impact air routes?
Currently, only two US airlines are scheduled to fly to South Africa. Delta is currently planning to start its triangle Atlanta-Johannesburg-Cape Town-Atlanta routing from the end of March. United Airlines plans on starting up a new route from Newark to Johannesburg in June. United’s seasonal service to Cape Town is expected to start from late-October.
There is still time for both of these routes to start. Depending on the outcome of the pandemic, airlines could maintain their existing schedules if the Biden Administration finds a reason or way to reopen travel between South Africa and the United States. However, if the current trajectory continues and vaccinations continue to be rolled out slowly, then expect airlines to tweak their schedules further and delay the resumption of nonstop flights between the US and South Africa.
Are you glad to see the Biden Administration add South Africa to the travel ban list? Let us know in the comments!