President Joe Biden was mocked after announcing on Friday that his administration would be implementing travel restrictions on eight nations in southern Africa amid concerns of a new COVID-19 variant outbreak.
The travel restrictions will go into effect on Monday, but they will not apply to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. The eight nations are South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi.
Biden said in a statement on Friday:
This morning I was briefed by my chief medical advisor, Dr. Tony Fauci, and the members of our COVID response team, about the Omicron variant, which is spreading through Southern Africa. As a precautionary measure until we have more information, I am ordering additional air travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries. These new restrictions will take effect on November 29. As we move forward, we will continue to be guided by what the science and my medical team advises.
The announcement opened a door for critics to hit Biden over his past criticism of former President Donald Trump for using travel restrictions to protect Americans from the spread of COVID-19.
Critics pointed out two tweets from Biden that targeted Trump, one of which was related to the pandemic while the other was not.
The tweet related to the pandemic stated: “A wall will not stop the coronavirus. Banning all travel from Europe — or any other part of the world — will not stop it. This disease could impact every nation and any person on the planet — and we need a plan to combat it.”
A wall will not stop the coronavirus.
Banning all travel from Europe — or any other part of the world — will not stop it.
This disease could impact every nation and any person on the planet — and we need a plan to combat it.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) March 13, 2020
The tweet not related to the pandemic stated: “Trump further diminished the U.S. in the eyes of the world by expanding his travel ban. This new ‘African Ban,’ is designed to make it harder for black and brown people to immigrate to the United States. It’s a disgrace, and we cannot let him succeed.”
This was Biden on what he called the "African Ban" last year. Now he's imposed one himself. https://t.co/HYLrRaBpWO
— Brit Hume (@brithume) November 26, 2021
Notable responses to Biden’s announcement included:
- Stephen Miller, political commentator: “If you want to know what’s guiding the science right now behind new covid variants in the Biden administration, it’s the internal polling of Ron DeSantis vs Randi Weingarten.”
- Richard Grenell, former Acting Director of National Intelligence: “Biden’s extended un-American travel ban undermines our nation’s core values. It is clearly driven by hate, not security.”
- Brit Hume, Fox News: “This was Biden on what he called the ‘African Ban’ last year. Now he’s imposed one himself.”
- Arthur Schwartz, political strategist: “Sounds kinda racist and xenophobic.”
- Max Abrahms, professor: “Double standards in media coverage of Biden compared Trump over COVID has been remarkable to watch.”
- Mike Cernovich, political commentator: “Democrats downplayed Covid until you learned you could rewrite voting rules. Also New York handled Covid the worst while granting Cuomo emmys for covering up nursing home deaths. Do your cardio, lift, get vaccinated if at risk, and live your life.”
- Michele Perez Exner, GOP comms: “Then candidate-Joe Biden’s entire campaign shtick was he’s ‘going to defeat the virus.’ Not only has he failed at this (and many other things), but now he’s employing the same strategy he once labeled as ‘xenophobic’ and racist.”
- Matthew Kolken, attorney: “Joe Biden is a racist. His rules.”
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