Biden says he doesn’t expect new travel restrictions or quarantines as Covid omicron variant spreads

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

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

On Monday, President Joe Biden said he did not expect the US to impose additional travel restrictions to stem the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, pushing some airline stocks higher.

Airline and aerospace stocks fell sharply on Friday after several countries reported cases of the omicron option and imposed new travel restrictions. On Monday, the US began to temporarily ban travel from South Africa, where scientists first reported the strain, as well as from Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.

The spread of the option will determine the need for additional travel restrictions, Biden said at a news conference on Monday.

“I don’t expect this at the moment,” he said. The president also said that he did not think isolation was necessary.

The new rules came into effect three weeks after the US lifted stringent travel rules in the wake of the pandemic, which barred foreign visitors from the UK, Brazil, India, South Africa and nearly 30 other countries from entering. Airline executives said the number of bookings has skyrocketed after the administration set a date to lift rules that were first enacted at the start of the pandemic.

Omicron cases are reported from Israel to Hong Kong and Canada. Israel and Japan have imposed some of the strictest travel bans, temporarily banning foreign visitors.

Domestic travel has skyrocketed this year after vaccinations were cut off across the board and restrictions on the pandemic were eased in cities. American airlines have had some of the busiest days since February 2020 during Thanksgiving week.

Large networked airlines rely heavily on international long-distance flights. Executives were particularly optimistic about the resumption of transatlantic travel in 2022, but additional travel restrictions could slow the segment’s recovery.

United Airlines rose 1% in daytime trading following Biden’s announcements. Delta Air Lines and American Airlines were largely unchanged, recovering from daily lows.

Discount carriers that do not have transatlantic or other long-haul international flights grew even more, with Spirit and Sun Country up more than 3%.

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