United States President, Joe Biden on Monday will reinstate the Covid-19 travel restrictions on non-US citizens in Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and much of Europe, a White House official said. Biden will also extend the restrictions to travellers who have recently been to South Africa, the official said.
The step comes just one week after President Donald Trump signed an executive order in his final days in office lifting the restrictions on travellers from these countries effective January 26. Now, the Biden administration says it would reverse the order.
“We’re in a national emergency. It’s time we treated it like one,” Biden said on Thursday.
Some health officials are concerned that current vaccines may not be effective against the South Africa variant, which also raises the prospect of re-infection.
The South African variant, also known as the 501Y.V2 variant, is 50% more infectious and has been detected in at least 20 countries.
The South African variant has not yet been found in the United States but at least 20 U.S. states have detected a UK variant known as B.1.1.7. Current vaccines appear effective against the UK mutations.