Stefano Agosto, of Culver City, meeting his sister Caterina Agosto, of Italy, at Los Angeles International Airport on December 22. A big jump in LA County Omicron cases heightens alarm about the unvaccinated.
Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
The White House plans to lift travel restrictions on southern African countries on December 31.
All international travelers must still test negative within a day of departure.
The Omicron coronavirus variant has swept through the US.
President Joe Biden plans to lift the travel restrictions his administration imposed on countries in southern Africa on December 31, the White House announced on Friday.
In late November, Biden set restrictions on travel from eight countries — South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Eswatini, Malawi, and Namibia — over fears of the Omicron coronavirus variant. South Africa first reported the variant to the World Health Organization on November 24.
The Omicron variant has since swept through the US. It now accounts for more than 73% of coronavirus cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Biden is set to lift the restrictions on December 31 at 12:01 a.m. The policy was first announced through a tweet from Kevin Munoz, a White House spokesperson.
“The restrictions gave us time to understand Omicron and we know our existing vaccines work against Omicron, esp boosted,” Munoz tweeted.
The travel restrictions didn’t affect US citizens or permanent residents, who only had to test negative for the virus before returning to the US.
Since December 6, CDC policy required that all international travelers must test negative within a day of departure regardless of their vaccination status. Travelers are also required to wear masks on planes and in airports.
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