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GLOBAL: New Travel Restrictions Introduced in Response to COVID-19 Omicron Variant Concerns

While the world awaits further information on the new COVID-19 Omicron variant, many countries have introduced new travel restrictions against individuals from, or with recent travel to, several Southern African countries. Although there is some variation on exactly which countries are affected by the new restrictions, the most common are Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Seychelles, and Zimbabwe.

Individuals from, or with recent travel to, the affected countries currently face a variety of different restrictions including:

  • Entry bans – exemptions for urgent or emergency reasons may apply
  • Additional quarantine and testing measures
  • Addition to high-risk country lists – for example, Red List, Countries with Area of Variant Concern, etc.
  • Suspension of international flights from applicable countries
  • Pause in visa and permit processing for applicants from applicable countries

Currently, most restrictions are temporary in nature and are scheduled to last into at least December; however, if concerns over the Omicron variant continue, it is anticipated that the restrictions will be extended.

Finally, it is important to note that the above restrictions may be in place for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers alike, depending on the destination country in question.

For the most up-to-date and accurate information on what is required to enter the most frequented destinations in global travel safely and securely, please see CIBTvisas’ Entry Guide. This online tool is updated daily and provides details on country-specific entry restrictions, entry and health requirements, in-country experience, transit restrictions, and re-entry requirements.

Newland Chase Insights

After several weeks of seeing many countries begin to open their borders strategically, especially for vaccinated travelers, the Omicron variant has brought back new geographic travel restrictions. Employers and travelers alike will need to keep close eye on travel requirements and restrictions in the upcoming weeks as the scientific community learns more about the Omicron variant and its possible effect on the worldwide effort to end the pandemic. As we saw with the Delta variant, it will be important to monitor both new travel restrictions on the current list of affected countries but also new countries/regions facing travel restrictions or complications as the variant spreads.

Newland Chase and CIBTvisas will continue to closely monitor the situation throughout the world. Be sure to utilize CIBTvisas’ Entry Guide for country-specific travel guidance, requirements, and updates. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Newland Chase dedicated contact or submit an inquiry here should you have any specific questions regarding this announcement.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2021 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.