President Joe Biden said Monday that additional travel bans were unlikely after the United States barred travelers from southern Africa where the new Omicron variant was detected last week.
“I don’t anticipate it at this point,” Biden said at a news conference.
The United States on Monday imposed travel bans on South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.
The latest bans have been criticized by some medical experts as ineffective, since Omicron has already been discovered in other countries. But Biden said the latest travel restrictions gives his administration time to better understand the new variant.
“While we have said that travel restrictions can slow the speed of omicron, it cannot prevent it. Here’s what it does: it gives us time,” Biden said. “It gives us time to take more actions. To move quicker, to make sure people understand you have to get the vaccine. You have to get the shot. You have to get the booster.”
The new restrictions come three weeks after the United States lifted travel bans on vaccinated travelers from dozens of countries.