Americans returning from the Thanksgiving break faced strict new coronavirus measures around the country Monday as health officials brace for a disastrous worsening of the nationwide surge. (Dec. 1)
President Joe Biden on Monday is expected to reinstate COVID-19 travel restrictions to combat COVID-19 infections, a White House official who was not authorized to speak ahead of the official announcement confirmed to USA TODAY on Sunday.
The restrictions, which were in place for most of 2020, apply to non-U.S. citizens who have been in Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and much of Europe. Then-President Donald Trump rescinded the restrictions days before the end of his term.
“With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” the now-White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Twitter last Monday.
“On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on (Jan.) 26. In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Psaki added.
President Joe Biden signs his first executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. (Photo: Evan Vucci, AP)
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Also Sunday, Reuters reported that Biden will impose a travel ban on South Africa, where a new potent strain of the virus has been discovered.
“We are adding South Africa to the restricted list because of the concerning variant present that has already spread beyond South Africa,” Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director, is quoted by Reuters.
The South Africa variant has not been discovered in the United States, but another variant – originating in the United Kingdom – has been detected in several states.
Last week, Biden issued an executive order directing federal agencies to require international air travelers to quarantine upon U.S. arrival. The order also requires that all U.S.-bound passengers ages 2 and above get negative COVID-19 test results within three days before traveling.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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