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Biden to Lift Omicron Travel Restrictions on 8 African Countries

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President Joe Biden will lift travel restrictions he imposed on eight African countries after the discovery of the omicron variant of COVID-19.

On Friday, White House Assistant Press Secretary Kevin Munoz tweeted, “On Dec. 31, [Biden] will lift the temporary travel restrictions on Southern Africa countries. This decision was recommended by [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

“The restrictions gave us time to understand Omicron and we know our existing vaccines work against Omicron, esp boosted,” he added.

The restrictions applied to South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.

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Biden announced the restrictions on Nov. 26, after the new omicron variant was discovered.

Dr. Anthony Fauci later criticized what he called “knee-jerk” travel restrictions.

“When we had the emergence of the Omicron variant, there was an almost knee-jerk response on the part of a number of countries, including the United States, to block travel from the countries in which there was recognizable cases of Omicron,” he said.

He continued, “And I think that that knee-jerk reaction was understandable. It had political and nationalistic aspects to it to protect your country. But you also have to take into consideration your responsibility not only to your country but to the rest of the world. And I think that was a very, very difficult decision.”

Do you think the restrictions should be lifted?

“And I think there are fundamental, ethical questions that needed to be asked…about how long do you keep that up. When does the point come when you say, ‘OK, we made the point, now we’ve gotta pull back?’” Fauci added.

An administration official told Fox News, “At the time these restrictions were put in place, it was clear that there was widespread community transmission in South Africa, as well as a great deal of cross-border travel in the region and little surveillance in many of the countries near South Africa.”

“We will lift these restrictions effective Friday, December 31 at 12:01 AM,” the official added.

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