As the Omicron variant continues to ravage the United States (US), President Joe Biden’s administration announced that imposing a travel ban on South Africa and seven other southern African countries was fruitless.
US travel ban: Eight African countries granted re-entry into America
From 31 December 2021, travellers from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini and Malawi were allowed to enter the American skies for the first time since restrictions were imposed in late November.
“The restrictions gave us time to understand omicron and we know our existing vaccines work against omicron, esp boosted,” White House representative Kevin Munoz told the media last week.
The decision follows similar developments from Australia, Denmark and the United Kingdom (UK). The US government further noted that lifting the travel ban was a recommendation made by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“”This travel pause has served its purpose. It bought time to understand the science, it gave time to analyze the variant,” a White House official told Reuters.
The unnamed source further stated that the point of the US travel ban was not to keep the Omicron variant out, but rather an effort to “reduce the number of cases coming in – in those early days and weeks.”
What you need to travel to US from South Africa
The CDC has introduced a new COVID-19 testing order that applies to “all air passengers two years of age or older boarding a flight from a foreign country to the United States.”
Entering the US from South Africa will require passengers to:
- get a COVID-19 viral test (regardless of vaccination status or citizenship) no more than one day before you travel by air into the United States;
- show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight;
- travel with documentation of recovery from COVID-19 (i.e., your positive COVID-19 viral test result on a sample taken no more than 90 days before the flight’s departure from a foreign country and a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel);
- present a vaccine certificate obtained two weeks after the single dose (Johnson & Johnson) or second jab (Pfizer).