Biden says he doesn't expect more travel restrictions or lockdowns as omicron Covid variant spreads

Travelers walk through Terminal A at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport November 23, 2021 in Arlington, Virginia.Drew Angerer | Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Monday said he doesn't expect the U.S. to impose additional travel restrictions to stem the spread of the omicron Covid-19 variant, sending some airline stocks higher.

Airline and aerospace stocks fell sharply on Friday after several countries reported cases of the omicron variant and established new travel restrictions. The U.S. on Monday began to temporarily bar visitors from South Africa, where scientists first reported the variant, and from Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi.

The degree of the variant's spread will determine whether more travel restrictions are necessary, Biden said at a news conference on the variant.

“I don't anticipate that at this point,” he said. Biden also said he doesn't think lockdowns are necessary.

The new rules come three weeks after the U.S. lifted strict pandemic travel rules that prohibited entry to foreign visitors from the U.K., Brazil, India, South Africa and nearly 30 other nations. Airline executives said bookings surged after the administration set a date to lift the rules, which were first put in place early in the pandemic.

United Airlines and American Airlines were each up more than 1% in afternoon trading, gaining after Biden's remarks. Delta Air Lines was up 0.6%.

Discount carriers that don't have trans-Atlantic or other long-haul international service rose even more, with Spirit and Sun Country each up more than 3%.

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