President Joe Biden has signed an executive order barring most non-US citizens who have recently been in South Africa from entering the country.
The new restriction, which was announced on Monday evening, will take effect on Saturday.
Mr. Biden’s order also reimposes an entry ban, set to expire on Tuesday, on nearly all non-US travelers who have been in Brazil, the UK, the Irish Republic and twenty-six other European countries that allow travel across open borders.
Last week, then-US President Donald Trump revoked those restrictions which were imposed last year effective Tuesday.
“With the pandemic worsening and more contagious variants spreading, this isn’t the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at Monday’s news briefing.
Some health officials are concerned current vaccines may not be effective against the South Africa COVID-19 variant, which also raises the prospect of re-infection.
South Africa’s 501Y.V2 variant is 50% more infectious than the regular strain and has been detected in at least twenty countries.