Starting on Monday, December 6, all international travelers arriving in the U.S. are required to take a COVID test within 24 hours of departure. The mask mandate was also extended – masks will also continue to be required on all public transportation (this means any flight that you take) until March 18th.
We’ve all been living with COVID-19 for the better part of the last two years. Now, with the rise of a concerning new variant, Omicron, countries have swiftly moved to institute travel bans. The first wave of travel bans had minimal effect on curbing the spread of the virus. But since we have a few weeks to wait before scientists will know precisely how transmissible Omicron is, most countries including the U.S. have opted for a “better to be safe than sorry” approach to air travel.
Why South Africa?
South Africa is at the top of the ban list because it’s where the variant was first discovered just last week. This doesn’t mean South Africa is where Omicron originated, in fact just today it was discovered that the variant likely began in Europe.
South Africa has some of the best tracking and sequencing technology surrounding Omicron. For this reason, scientists were able to detect the variant and decided to share findings on the world stage. Unfortunately, this spirit of transparency has come back to bite South Africa – in the form of travel bans.
Which Countries are a part of the U.S travel ban?
On November 29, 2021 the Biden White House enacted a ban on travel from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe. The ban does not extend to U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Read the full declaration. Many other western nations
What are Other Countries Doing?
Israel has temporarily closed its borders completely. Travelers are not allowed to enter the country for any reason until at least December 13. UPDATE: Israel is set to reopen to all visitors – including Americans – on December 22. All travelers will need to show proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours or an antigen test taken within 24 hours of arriving in Israel. Quarantines are also required and the length will depend on where you’re arriving from.
Morocco followed suit and announced that they are completely closing their borders to all non-citizens. They have also temporarily halted flights into Casablanca and other airports.
All travelers arriving into the UK must quarantine and take a PCR test next day. Once they receive a negative test result, their quarantine will be over.
It’s also worth noting that Japan has banned all arrivals of foreign travelers for now, but Japan-based foreigners with residence permits will still be allowed to enter.