Joe Biden

Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters in Nantucket, Massachusetts

November 26, 2021

U.S. Travel Restrictions From South Africa and Elsewhere/Coronavirus Omicron Variant

Q. Mr. President, what's your message to Americans on the new variant?

Q. Are you concerned about the variant, sir?

The President. You've already gotten my release. [Laughter]

Q. Yes.

The President. I've decided that we're going to be cautious, make sure there is no travel to and from South Africa and six other countries in that region and—except for American citizens who are able to come back.

But we don't know a lot about the variant except that it is of great concern; it seems to spread rapidly.

And we're—I spent about a half hour this morning with my COVID team, led by Dr. Fauci. And so that was the decision we made.

Q. Sir, why not an immediate ban?

Q. Do you think it's here in the U.S.?

Q. What about the markets dropping, sir

Q. Why not an immediate ban?

Stock Market

Q. The markets have dropped significantly today. What's your response to that?

The President. Expected. They always do when there's something—when COVID arises.

Q. But does it worry you at all?

The President. Not at all.

Q. And why not?

The President. Because why would it?

U.S. Travel Restrictions From South Africa and Elsewhere

Q. Mr. President, why are we waiting until Monday, sir? Why not an immediate ban? It's going into effect on Monday, but why not do it now, like other countries have done?

The President. Well, because that was the recommendation coming from my medical team.

Q. What's your message to——

Coronavirus Omicron Variant

Q. What do you say to questions about whether bans create an incentive for countries not to come forward with new variants if you're penalized for doing so?

The President. I'd say that's ridiculous, because you can't hide the variants. It's not like someone could hide the fact that there's a new variant, with people getting sick more quickly.

Q. How often——

Coronavirus Prevention Efforts

Q. Do Americans need to be more careful now going into the holiday season? You've been telling people to——

The President. Look—I have. Here's the deal: Every American who has not been vaccinated should be responsible and be vaccinated, from age 5 years and up, number one.

Number two, everyone eligible for the booster shot should get the booster shot immediately upon being eligible. That is the minimum that everyone should be doing.

And I—you know, we always talk about whether this is about freedom, but I think it's a patriotic responsibility to do that.

Thank you.

Federal Reserve System/Inflation

Q. Mr. President, are you—have you asked the Fed to singularly focus on inflation, sir, especially with the new appointments?

The President. I have talked to the Fed about a whole range of things, from monetary policy to inflation. And I have confidence that the appointees that I've made—and I'm going to have——

[At this point, the President cleared his throat.]

Excuse me, three more—are going to reflect that concern.

Q. When do you make those appointments sir?


Q. Are you worried about the situation in the Ukraine and the talk of a possible coup?

The President. I am concerned. Look, we support Ukraine's territorial integrity. We support Ukraine's ability to govern itself. And we object to anything remotely approaching what's been talked about.

Q. Have you talked to Zelenskiy or Putin? Are you going to?

The President. In all probability.

Thank you.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. Thanks, everybody.

Coronavirus Prevention Efforts

Q. Mr. President, are you thinking of any new mandates, since your others are caught in court?

The President. No. Not at the moment.

Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 3:12 p.m. outside the Nantucket Bookworks bookstore. In his remarks, he referred to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony S. Fauci; Federal Reserve System Chair Jerome H. Powell and Vice Chair-designate Lael Brainard. A reporter referred to President Volodomyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine; and President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin of Russia.

Joseph R. Biden, Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters in Nantucket, Massachusetts Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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