Here’s What You Need To Know About Biden Administration’s Travel Ban On South Africa

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Travel suitcase and medical mask. The ban on travel during the epidemic of coronavirus and quarantine against corona virus.
The United States has imposed a travel ban on South Africans (Photo credit: iStockphoto)

The President of the U.S, Joe Biden, imposed a travel ban on most non—U.S. travelers in South Africa, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and 26 other countries. This is a desperate attempt to contain the spread of the new COVID-19 variant. The new White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, explained last week Monday the reason why President Joe Biden decided to impose the travel ban.

“[Joe Biden] decided to maintain the restrictions previously in place for the European Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and Brazil, with the worsening spread of the more contagious variant. The president is taking these steps on the advice of his COVID-19 and medical team.”

Biden’s Enforcement of Travel Ban is an Aggressive Approach to Combat the Spread of COVID-19 Variant

Former President of the U.S., Donald Trump, lifted the travel ban into the U.S earlier in January before leaving office. However, the Biden administration said it would rescind that directive. The Biden administration is taking an aggressive approach towards fighting the spread of Coronavirus in the U.S.

It is essential to know that many health experts are concerned that the South African variant—also known as 501Y.V2—may cause re-infection. Also, there are concerns that the current vaccines may be ineffective against it. The 501Y.V2 variant is over 50% more infectious, and it is currently present in at least 20 countries. The U.S CDC officials told Reuters that it might add more countries if the infection rate soars higher.

The United States hasn’t found any infection caused by the 501Y.V2 variant, but at least 20 states in the U.S have detected a U.K. variant known as B.1.1.7. Current vaccines appear effective against the B.1.1.7 variant.

Can Passengers From South Africa Travel To The U.S. Despite The Travel Ban?

A woman wearing her face mask while boarding a plane
(Photo credit:

Airline passengers from South Africa can still travel to the U.S. However, they must provide a negative test from a licensed healthcare provider within three calendar days of travel, according to the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in South Africa. If they recovered from COVID-19 within 90 days, a licensed healthcare provider’s note is needed as proof. This directive has been effective since January 26 in a bid to curb the spread of the new South African variant. 

Does The Ban Also Apply To U.S Citizens Returning To The U.S?

President Joe Biden ordered that from January 30, immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the U.S. should be stopped. Consequently, individuals physically present in South Africa need to quarantine for a 14-day period before they enter the U.S. However, this ban doesn’t apply to U.S. citizens, and it also contains lots of exemptions for lawful permanent residents in the U.S. However, it is compulsory that all travelers to the U.S., including U.S citizens, must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test to airlines before traveling to and outside the U.S

Are U.S Citizens Allowed To Enter South Africa?

U.S citizens are allowed to enter South Africa but will need to present a negative COVID-19 test not older than 72 hours from the time of departure. Where a U.S citizen hasn’t done a COVID-19 test before traveling to South Africa, they will be required to remain in mandatory quarantine at their own cost.

It is essential to know that South Africa adopted a risk-adjusted policy during the COVID-19 pandemic, raising their alert level at some point to 5. Level 5 is the strictest when it comes to regulations. South Africa moved to Level 3 on the risk-adjusted framework on December 29, 2020. Consequently, they opened their airspace to international flights. However, all international arrivals from permitted destinations need to stick with all the necessary regulations. The adjusted Level 3 measures in South Africa will be in place until 15 January 2021.


Obviously, the travel ban means the aviation industry will continue to bleed. Also, it will lead to short-term suffering and frustration for travelers. However, in the long-run, the goal will justify the means, hopefully. One thing is clear, unlike the Trump administration, President Biden is committed to securing the lives of Americans from the pandemic. The administration is doing everything in its power to control the spread of COVID-19, but there is no end in sight on when the U.S. will lift its travel ban. Well, what do you think about the ban? Tell us how it has affected you in the comment box below.

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