Biden to reintroduce Covid-19 travel ban, says White House official

President Joe Biden will announce that he will reintroduce a Covid-19 travel ban on most non-US citizens who have been to Britain, Brazil, Ireland and much of Europe, a White House official said on Sunday, when the new the administration is increasing its pandemic response.

Biden will also on Monday extend the ban to travelers who have recently been to South Africa amid warnings that new, more transmissible coronavirus variants are already establishing themselves in the United States, the official said, confirming US media reports.

The new president last week tightened basic rules and ordered quarantine for people flying to the United States as he tries to deal with the country’s worsening coronavirus crisis.

Biden has said that the number of deaths in Covid-19 would probably increase from 420,000 to half a million next month – and that drastic measures were needed.

“We are in a national emergency. It is time we treat it as one,” he said on Thursday.

During his last day in office, Donald Trump announced that a Covid-19 ban on travelers arriving from large parts of Europe and Brazil would be lifted – but the Biden administration said it would immediately lift the order to take effect on January 26.

Trump had announced a first ban on January 31, 2020 against non-US travelers entering China to stop the spread of coronavirus. The ban was extended to European countries on March 14 when the pandemic went into full force.