U.S. is lifting southern Africa entry ban

The Biden administration will lift the ban on noncitizen U.S. entry from South Africa and seven other southern African nations on Dec. 31. 

“The restrictions gave us time to understand omicron, and we know our existing vaccines work against omicron, [especially] boosted,” assistant press secretary Kevin Munoz said on Twitter. The decision, he added, was recommend by the CDC. 

Related: South African Airways dealing with a refund backlog

The U.S. imposed the entry ban for travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi on Nov. 29, due to the emergence of omicron in that region.

The ban was decried by the travel industry lobby, who oppose country-specific Covid-19 travel bans. 

Omicron has become the dominant Covid-19 variant in the U.S. in recent weeks, fueling a new surge in Covid cases.

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