The decision to restrict travel comes as the federal government is still trying to learn more about the new variant, named Omicron. They need to see more sequencing, but after discussing what they have seen until now, officials decided to keep the travel of the other countries out of worry about what they do not know yet.
Biden was briefed Friday about the new coronavirus variant circulating in South Africa, he said in the announcement.
Officials have said the policy has been implemented with plenty of caution because the World Health Organization has now identified it as a variant of concern.
“Our scientists and public health officials are working quickly to learn more about this variant,” one official said.
A senior Biden administration official said several steps need to be taken before the restrictions begin on Monday, including a formal U.S.
“This is a fast timeline but there are things that need to be done before,” the official said.
An airline source told CNN airline executives and the White House were in contact Friday, before the announcement of new travel restrictions.
Another source familiar with the situation said there was a call this afternoon with the federal government and the airline industry. The federal government is working on drafting an official directive that will include guidelines for airlines that go into effect just after midnight Monday morning.
South Africa’s health minister announced Thursday the discovery of the variant, which seems to be spreading rapidly in parts of the country.
Meanwhile, “there is no indication” that the new variant is in the United States right now – and US. Friday.
“Now, we’re getting this material together with our South African colleagues to get a situation where you could actually immediately try it. So, right now you’re talking about a red flag that this could be an issue – – but we do not know,” Fauci said.
“You want to find out if it really avoids the vaccines we do,” Fauci said when asked about potential travel restrictions. “You are willing to do everything you need to do to protect the American public, but you want to make sure there is a basis to do so.”
Several other countries – including the United Kingdom – have banned flights from South Africa and surrounding African countries in response to the emergence of the variant.
These travel restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. As with all international travelers, they must still test negative before traveling.
The story is updated with additional information.
CNN’s Allie Malloy, Jeff Zeleny and Pete Muntean contributed to the report.