President Joe Biden will revoke former President Donald Trump’s plans to end coronavirus travel bans in Europe and South America and will add South Africa to the list in a Monday executive order.
Trump had ordered an end to the travel restrictions on the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe in the final days of his administration, but the order wouldn’t take effect until Tuesday. Biden’s Monday action both allows the travel bans to continue and adds South Africa to the list. New strains of COVID-19 have begun spreading from both the U.K. and South Africa in recent weeks. (RELATED: Biden To Sign Order Protecting US Manufacturing As Carrier Strike Group Enters South China Sea)
The president will not rescind Trump’s travel restrictions. the @PressSec notes also that South Africa has been added to the restricted travel list.
— Philip Melanchthon Wegmann (@PhilipWegmann) January 25, 2021
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser on combating the pandemic, said Jan. 21 that existing coronavirus vaccines have been found to be less effective against the South African strain. He clarified that it was still effective against the U.K. strain and remains helpful against the South African strain.
“With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted just before Biden took office. “On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26. In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
Trump’s order did not revoke travel bans on China and Iran, and those remain in place under the Biden administration as well.
“Those jurisdictions’ responses to the pandemic, their lack of transparency, and their lack of cooperation with the United States thus far in combatting the pandemic, cast doubt on their cooperation in implementing CDC’s January 12, 2021, order,” Trump said in a statement announcing the order before leaving office.