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Biden says he doesn’t expect more travel restrictions or blockages as Covid omicron variant spreads

Travelers pass through Terminal A at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on November 23, 2021 in Arlington, Virginia.

drew anger | Getty Images

President Joe Biden said on Monday that he does not expect the United States to impose additional travel restrictions to stem the spread of the omicron Covid-19 variant, raising shares of some airlines.

Airlines and aerospace stocks fell sharply on Friday after several countries reported cases of the omicron variant and established new travel restrictions. The United States on Monday began temporarily banning visitors from South Africa, where scientists first reported the variant, and Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and from Malawi.

How far the variant has spread will determine whether more travel restrictions are needed, Biden said at a press conference on the variant.

“I’m not planning this at the moment,” he said. Biden also said he didn’t think the lockdowns were necessary.

The new rules come three weeks after the United States lifted strict pandemic travel rules that barred entry to foreign visitors from the United Kingdom, Brazil, India, South Africa and nearly 30 other countries. Airlines executives said bookings increased after the administration set a date to lift the rules, which were first put in place at the start of the pandemic.

United Airlines and American Airlines each rose more than 1% in afternoon trading, gaining after Biden’s remarks. Delta Air Lines rose 0.6%.

Discount carriers that do not have transatlantic or other long-haul international service increased further, with Spirit and Sun Country each up more than 3%.

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