President Joe Biden will reinstate coronavirus travel restrictions against foreign citizens coming to the U.S. from Brazil, the U.K, Ireland and much of Europe on Monday, according to multiple reports, and will add South Africa to the list.
Reuters first reported the pending order Sunday, which was later confirmed by NBC News. Last week then-President Donald Trump ordered an end to the virtual ban on travel from those countries effective Jan. 26, though Biden’s team immediately said the incoming administration would leave the ban intact.
The travel restrictions, first put in place last spring, have barred foreign citizens who have been in Brazil, the U.K., Ireland and the 26 European countries making up the Schengen area in the 14 days prior to their arrival in the U.S.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official told Reuters on Sunday that South Africa would be added to the list in an effort to contain the spread of a new variant of COVID-19 found in that country.
There have been concerns that the South African variant may be less responsive to the coronavirus vaccine. It has not yet been discovered in the U.S., although other variants have been.
The Biden administration is taking a significantly more aggressive approach to battling the pandemic, with the new president signing at least 10 executive orders last week intended to speed up testing, accelerate the manufacturing of protective gear and increase vaccinations.
Last week, Biden ordered all international air travelers to quarantine upon arrival in the U.S., and that inbound international passengers test must negative for COVID-19 within three days of arriving in the U.S.
As of Sunday, there have been 99 million global cases of COVID-19 — more than 25 million in the U.S. alone — and 2.1 million deaths worldwide, with more than 418,000 deaths in the U.S., according to data from Johns Hopkins University.