On December 24, 2021, the Biden administration announced that it would reverse the travel ban to the United States from eight African countries.
Leon Wolf of The Blaze observed that this is a policy reversal that the administration imposed following the outbreak of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
The administration implemented the ban on November 29th after the first case of the Omicron variant was detected in South Africa.
The original order barred any non-citizen who recently visited countries such as Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia or South Africa from entering the US. The ban will now expire on December 31, 2021.
A White House spokesperson published a tweet about the decision on December 24 noting that this decision was “recommended by [the CDC].”
The tweet added that the restrictions “gave us time to understand Omicron and we know our existing vaccines work against Omicron, esp. boosted.” Travel bans have been one of the more controversial manners of tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration announced a travel ban on flights originating from China.
While he was on the campaign trail, Joe Biden criticized Trump’s travel ban as an example of “hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering.”
When Biden enacted the African travel ban and was pressed about his original quote concerning Trump’s China travel ban, he asserted that his comments referred to Trump’s response to the Ebola virus outbreak in 2014.
Biden later changed his position while campaigning, declaring, “Travel restrictions, when supported by science, advocated by public health officials, and backed by a full strategy can be warranted. Travel restrictions can buy time; but here, the time they bought for preparation was squandered when Trump used it to downplay, rather than ready the country for, the disease.”