U.S. President Joseph R. Biden on Monday restricted travel from 26 countries, including Ireland, South Africa and Brazil, citing COVID-19 concerns.
“The Federal Government must act swiftly and aggressively to combat coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19),” Biden said in a statement. “The national emergency caused by the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States continues to pose a grave threat to our health and security. As of January 20, 2021, the United States had experienced more than 24 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 400,000 COVID-19 deaths. It is the policy of my Administration to implement science-based public health measures, across all areas of the Federal Government, to prevent further spread of the disease.”
Biden went on to say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), within the Department of Health and Human Services has determined that the Republic of South Africa is experiencing widespread, ongoing person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, including a variant strain of the virus known as B.1.351. The World Health Organization has reported that the Republic of South Africa has over 1,400,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Another variant strain, known as B.1.1.7, is widely circulating and has been traced to the United Kingdom.
Furthermore, a third variant strain, which is known as B.184.108.40.206 and may impact the potential for re-infection, has been identified in Brazil.
Based on developments with respect to the variants and the continued spread of the disease, CDC has reexamined its policies on international travel and, after reviewing the public health situations within the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom (excluding overseas territories outside of Europe), the Republic of Ireland, the Federative Republic of Brazil, and the Republic of South Africa, has concluded that continued and further measures are required to protect the public health from travelers entering the United States from those jurisdictions.
“I have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict and suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of noncitizens of the United States (“noncitizens”) who were physically present within the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom (excluding overseas territories outside of Europe), the Republic of Ireland, the Federative Republic of Brazil, and the Republic of South Africa during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States,” Biden said.
The proclamation goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 30.