The US will eliminate travel restrictions on eight African countries, including South Africa, beginning December 31, according to the White House.
The limitations were put in place last month in reaction to the detection of the Omicron variant in the region.
Tweeting a Reuters news story on the news, White House press secretary Kevin Munoz wrote: “The restrictions gave us time to understand Omicron and we know our existing vaccines work against Omicron, esp(ecially) boosted.”
Foreign nationals from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi would be able to travel freely.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has slammed harsh travel prohibitions, such as those established by the United States in reaction to the Omicron variety.
Travel bans, according to the WHO, may deter countries from reporting new variations when they are detected in the future.
In any event, according to the WHO, travel bans seldom work to keep variations out of a nation. By the time Omicron was discovered, it had most certainly migrated beyond Africa.
The limits were backed by US officials, notably White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, who said they helped gain time before the Omicron outbreak became entrenched.
That period has gone, with Omicron instances on the rise across the United States.
Despite prohibiting foreign nationals from traveling to or from southern Africa, the Biden administration’s travel ban did not bar Americans from doing so.
Critics feared that, like the travel restrictions placed on a number of nations at the onset of the pandemic, President Biden would keep the ban in place long after it was no longer necessary.