The US Issues a Travel Ban for 8 African Countries; EU, UK, and Israel Increase Travel Restrictions

On Friday, November 26, President Joe Biden announced that from Monday, November 29, the United States would ban travel from 8 African countries — Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. This policy does not ban flights and does not apply to US citizens and lawful permanent residents.

Officials speaking about the policy said it was being “implemented out of an abundance of caution in light of a new COVID-19 variant circulating in Southern Africa.”

Also on Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified a new variant first reported in South Africa on November 24 as “Omicron.”

Other Travel Restrictions
  • The UK | On Thursday, November 25, the UK Government reinstated the “Red List” category adding six African countries to the list — Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. The changes went into effect at 12 pm on Friday, November 26. If a traveler has been in a Red List country in the 10 days before they arrive in England, they are only permitted entry if they are British or Irish Nationals or have residence rights in the UK.
    • From 12 pm on Friday, November 26 to 4 am on Sunday, November 28, there is a ban on all direct commercial and private flights from the Red List countries to England.
    • Travelers who have been in these countries and arrive in England between midday Friday, November 26 and 4 am on Sunday, November 28, must follow the guidance on their passenger locator form, quarantine at home for 10 days, and take a COVID-19 PCR test on days 2 and 8.
    • After 4 am on Sunday, November 28, travelers from these Red List countries will have to quarantine at a managed hotel. More information about these requirements is available here.
  • The EU | On Friday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted that she would “activate the emergency brake to stop air travel from the southern African region due to the variant.”
  • Israel has also issued a travel ban to and from seven African countries. Israelis returning home from those countries would have to quarantine for 7 days and test twice before ending their quarantine.
Erickson Insights

The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly evolving, and guidance from government agencies and health advisories change often.

Erickson Immigration Group will continue to send updates as more news is available. If you have questions about anything we’re reporting above or case-specific questions, please contact your employer or EIG attorney.