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The Biden Administration has restricted travel from seven countries in southern Africa after a new variant of the coronavirus has emerged.
Starting this week, travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Eswatini, Malawi, and Mozambique will be restricted from entering the United States if they have been physically present in any of those countries during the “14-days preceding their entry, or attempted entry” into the U.S, CNN reports.
The @WHO has identified a new COVID variant which is spreading through Southern Africa. As a precautionary measure until we have more information, I am ordering air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries.— President Biden (@POTUS) November 26, 2021
U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and the spouses of citizens and permanent residents are exempt from the new ruling.
According to CNN, the new travel restrictions are the result of a new variant, named Omicron, which was first found in southern Africa. Out of an abundance of caution, the restriction on travelers from the seven countries has been put in place whilst the federal government attempts to learn more about the new variant.
“We don’t know a lot about the variant except that it is a big concern and seems to spread rapidly, and I spent about a half-hour this morning with my Covid team led by Dr. Fauci, so that was the decision we made,” President Biden said in a statement reported by CNN.