Starting on Monday, the United States will restrict travel from South Africa and seven other nations in southern Africa as concerns mount over the “Nu” COVID-19 variant. UPDATE: We now have further details concerning the entry restrictions
USA Restricts Travel From Eight African Nations (Full List)
Beginning Monday, November 29th, the United States will restrict travel from:
- Eswatini (Swaziland)
- South Africa
Details About New African Travel Restrictions
Like prior country-specific restrictions, the entrance ban will apply to all non-US citizens, regardless of citizenship, who have entered or transited the eight nations one the prior two weeks.
Effective Monday, November 29, by Presidential Proclamation, the United States will deny entry to non-U.S. citizens who have visited or transited through [the country list above] in the last 14 days. U.S. citizens or lawful permanent resides who have been present in one of these locations will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within one (1) calendar day of departure of the U.S. regardless of vaccination status.
Incoming foreign nationals must still be fully vaccinated. Unlike the rest of the world, where all passengers must present a negative COVID-19 test not older than three calendar days (one calendar day for those U.S. citizens who are unvaccinated), all travelers must present a negative test taken with one calendar day, even if vaccinated.
In a statement, President Joe Biden did not specify the duration of these entry bans except to say they would be “guided by what the science and my medical team advises.”
“This morning I was briefed by my chief medical advisor, Dr. Tony Fauci, and the members of our COVID response team, about the Omicron variant, which is spreading through Southern Africa. As a precautionary measure until we have more information, I am ordering additional air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries. These new restrictions will take effect on November 29. As we move forward, we will continue to be guided by what the science and my medical team advises.”
Delta Air Lines and United Airlines have a combined total of 122 flights between the USA and South Africa planned for next month (87 from United, 35 from Delta).
At this time, no changes are planned in flight schedule. But the news has sent shares of Delta, United, and other airline stocks tumbling today as worry amounts about the new variant.
Canada, the European Union and the United Kingdom have also announced travel restrictions.
As I noted earlier, the scaremongering right now is deplorable. We know very little right now about the new strain beyond its unusually high number of mutations. It is not clear whether this mutation evades present vaccinations or is more lethal. Speculation of that nature only serves to plant fear and undermine efforts to address it in a responsible way.
The United States has joined other nations in curbing travel from South African and seven other nations in the region, even as it is almost certain Nu is already among us. For now, flights will continue and U.S. citizens are not impacted.