Joe Biden Drops Travel Restrictions on African Countries — WH Says It Won’t Slow Omicron in USA

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the COVID-19 response and vaccination program, Thursday, October 14, 2021, in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)
White House Photo / Adam Schultz

President Joe Biden announced Friday he will lift travel restrictions on eight African countries on December 31, attributing the decision to the fact that restricting international travel will not greatly affect the Wuhan coronavirus Omicron variant’s spread in the United States.

While Biden imposed the omicron-related travel restrictions in late November after criticizing former President Trump as racist for doing so in 2020, Biden will reportedly retract the flight restrictions nearly one month later.

“According to our health and medical experts at the CDC, the value of country-based international travel restrictions is greatest early in an outbreak, before the virus or variant has been widely disseminated,” the White House told the Washington Post. “This value declines as domestic transmission starts to contribute a larger proportion of case burden.”

On Tuesday, Biden warned the travel restrictions may be lifted because he failed to stop the omicron variant from spreading through the nation. “I’m considering reversing [the ban], I’m going to talk to my team in the next couple days,” Biden told reporters.

Empty SAA (South African Airways) check-in counters are seen at the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, on November 15, 2019. - The South African airline company has cancelled nearly all its domestic, regional and international flights scheduled for November 15, 2019 and November 16, 2019 following the announcement by the South African Cabin Crew Association and National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) that their members will go on strike from November 15, 2019. (Photo by Michele Spatari / AFP) (Photo by MICHELE SPATARI/AFP via Getty Images)

Empty SAA (South African Airways) check-in counters are seen at the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, on November 15, 2019. (Michele Spatari/AFP via Getty Images)

Though Biden campaigned on a “return to normalcy” platform and promised to shut the virus down, Biden explained to reporters he frantically implemented the travel ban to understand how omicron may impact the United States.

“Remember why I said we put the travel ban on — it was to see how much time we had before it hit here so we could begin to decide what we needed by looking at what was happening in other countries,” Biden continued. “And we’re past that now, and so it’s something that’s being raised with me by the docs and I’ll have an answer for that soon.”

Biden’s decision to remove travel restrictions is the latest reaction to the omicron variant in a string of chaotic regressions during his regime.

Heading into Christmas, thousands of flights have been canceled for Christmas and Christmas Eve, testing kits are in short supply, professional sports leagues have postponed games, schools have closed early for Christmas break, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has marked the Johnson and Johnson vaccine for safety hazards.

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø.


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