Countries Respond to COVID-19 Omicron Variant with New Travel Restrictions
As governments and people all over the world await more scientific data about the transmissibility and danger of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, countries are quickly issuing travel restrictions – primarily restricting travel from southern Africa. The restrictions vary from full border closures to suspending flights, enforcing quarantines, restricting arrivals, and requiring testing.
The list will likely grow and change, but as of this date and time, the countries enforcing restrictions include:
Angola, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Fiji, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Maldives, Malta, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, United Kingdom, and the United States.
While some nations, like Japan, have opted for stringent measures, such as closing their borders to international travelers entirely, other countries have opted for targeted travel closures. Most of the bans restrict entry by individuals who have been in the subject countries within 14 days of travel. The countries subject to many of these bans are Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. These countries, all in southern Africa, are condemning the restrictions as a punishment for being open and transparent about the emerging strain, noting that Omicron has already been found in other countries, including Scotland and Canada. Indeed, the new variant reportedly was found as early as November 19, 2021, and is in 20 countries, including those in Europe.
Given the changing circumstances, checking with airlines and embassies prior to travel is essential.
Zachary George Adam Monjo contributed to this article.