Washington [US]: The White House on Friday announced that America is lifting the travel restrictions imposed on eight southern African countries last month following the discovery of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.
US President Joe Biden will lift the restrictions on December 31, just one month after the bans were first announced, according to White House assistant press secretary Kevin Munoz. Munoz noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that the restrictions be lifted.
“On December 31, @POTUS will lift the temporary travel restrictions on Southern Africa countries. This decision was recommended by @CDCgov,” Munoz said in a tweet.
“The restrictions gave us time to understand Omicron and we know our existing vaccines work against Omicron, esp boosted,” he added.
The Biden administration announced the restrictions on South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi last month to try and tame the spread of the omicron variant, according to The Hill.
Biden on Tuesday (local time) said that he was “considering reversing” the travel restrictions, telling reporters “I’m going to talk with my team in the next couple of days.”
He reiterated that the administration implemented the bans “to see how much time we had before it (omicron) hit here so we could begin to decide what we needed by looking at what’s happening in other countries,” The Hill reported.
Meanwhile, the US is rolling out new measures to fight COVID-19 variant Omicron by providing an additional USD 580 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to support seven partners who are working tirelessly in the global fight against coronavirus.
This additional USD 580 million is a significant contribution to turn vaccines into vaccinations; strengthen public health capacity; support communities in need, and provide urgent, life-saving relief, read a statement by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Multilateral organizations are playing an indispensable role in these efforts, and with this additional USD 580 million, the US is supporting seven such partners to continue and accelerate the critical work they are doing to help end the pandemic, strengthen public health capacity, and provide urgent relief.