The Biden administration will lift travel restrictions eight African nations

The Biden administration will lift the travel restrictions it had imposed on eight African nations to curb the spread of the omicron variant of Covid-19, according to a senior administration official.

The travel restrictions on South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will end on Dec. 31 at 12:01 a.m. ET.

The official said that the decision was recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in part because health experts now know that the U.S.'s existing Covid vaccines are effective at preventing severe disease for those infected with omicron. The administration also said that international travelers from the African countries would not have a significant impact on U.S. cases given how widespread omicron was throughout the world.

The U.S. government had imposed the restrictions on Nov. 29 after the discovery of the new omicron variant in South Africa. President Joe Biden was criticized at the time by some health experts who viewed the foreign travel restrictions as ineffective.