The incoming US administration has overturned an edict by outgoing president Donald Trump to lift Covid travel bans.
The White House decreed on Monday that entry restrictions would end on January 26 – six days after president-elect Joe Biden takes office.
But Biden’s spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Twitter that now was not the time to be easing travel measures.
The US imposed the restrictions on Europe last March and the Brazilian entry ban was put in place in May.
Psaki tweeted immediately after president Trump’s decree was issued, saying: “On the advice of our medical team, the administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26.
“In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of Covid-19.”
She said that with “more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel”.
The White House had issued a statement minutes earlier saying that president Trump had signed an order lifting the entry ban on the UK, Ireland, the Schengen area of Europe that allows travel across open borders, and Brazil from January 26.
Travel bans for China and Iran would remain in place, the order said.
Following an order last week by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most air travellers arriving in the US from January 26 will have to provide a negative Covid-19 test or proof of recovery from the disease to enter.
Biden is due to be inaugurated on Wednesday.
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