The White House said on Friday that the Biden administration will lift travel restrictions on eight southern African countries imposed last month over concerns about the fast-spreading COVID-19 Omicron variant.
A senior official said foreign nationals who are barred from flying to the U.S. because they have been in one of the eight countries, including South Africa, will again be allowed to board U.S.-bound flights leaving after midnight on Dec. 31.
Reuters reported earlier that U.S. public health agencies had recommended lifting the travel restrictions because the Omicron variant is already widespread within the U.S. and existing vaccines and booster shots appear to be highly effective against it.
Earlier this month, the CDC toughened testing rules for international air travelers arriving in the U.S., requiring them to obtain a negative COVID-19 test within one day of travel.
Last week, the CDC started distributing free COVID-19 home test kits to international travelers at several airports.