The EU agreed on Monday to take southern African countries off its no-travel list, as Omicron cases in the European bloc soar, the French presidency of the European Union said.
Travelers coming from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe will still have to show negative PCR tests taken no more than 72 hours earlier, in line with rules for most other countries.
“Member States have agreed this morning … to lift the emergency brake to allow air travel to resume with southern African countries,” the French presidency of the EU tweeted.
“Travelers from this area will still be subject to the health measures applicable to travelers from third countries.”
The EU’s “emergency brake” travel ban on the seven African countries was imposed on November 26, days after the more contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus was first detected in southern Africa.
EU leaders have said the restriction was necessary to slow Omicron’s spread into Europe to give time for booster shots to be rolled out at an accelerated pace.
As of Monday, data plotted by Oxford University’s OurWorldinData project showed the latest COVID wave — exacerbated by Omicron — peaked three to four weeks ago in all the southern African countries except for Botswana, where reported cases were still rising.