WASHINGTON – The United States will lift travel restrictions for eight South African countries on New Year’s Eve, the White House announced Friday.
The restrictions, imposed last month, are aimed at reducing the spread of the COVID omicron variant.
The November 29 ban banned nearly all non-US citizens who had recently been in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.
White House spokesman Kevin Munoz said on Twitter that the decision was recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Munoz said the temporary travel ban gives scientists the time needed to study the new virus variant and conclude that current vaccinations are effective in minimizing its impact.
Omicron is now spreading rapidly across the United States, including among vaccinated people, but the majority of people hospitalized are unvaccinated.
“The restrictions have given us time to understand Omicron and we know our existing vaccine works against Omicron especially,” Munoz wrote on Twitter.
https://time.com/6131562/omicron-us/ US lifts travel ban for 8 South African countries