DHS imposes new restrictions on travelers from Ebola-stricken countries

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The Obama administration announced Tuesday that all U.S.-bound travelers from three Ebola-stricken African countries will be required to fly into one of five airports that are conducting additional screening.

The change comes as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle call for a travel ban from those countries -- Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. While administration officials continue to resist that step, the Department of Homeland Security said the new restrictions will go into effect starting Wednesday.

The change means all travelers from those three countries will have to arrive at one of the five designated airports: New York's JFK, Newark, Dulles, Atlanta and Chicago.

DHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month implemented "enhanced screening measures" at those airports. According to the department, the five airports already account for about 94 percent of travelers from those countries. Also, there are no direct commercial flights from West Africa to the United States.

However, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson cast the changes as an additional protective measure. "We are continually evaluating whether additional restrictions or added screening and precautionary measures are necessary to protect the American people and will act accordingly," he said in a statement.

The new requirement means that people traveling from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea who were not originally passing through one of those five airports will have to rebook their flights. "We are working closely with the airlines to implement these restrictions with minimal travel disruption," Johnson said.

Passengers from the Ebola hot-zone traveling through those airports are subject to additional screening measures, including having their temperature taken.

In response to the DHS change, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said he's "glad that the Obama administration is showing more concern about the possibility of people infected with Ebola entering the United States and spreading this deadly disease."

But he said the government still "must do more to protect Americans."

Goodlatte suggested the administration at least consider a temporary ban on foreign nationals trying to enter the U.S. from the Ebola-stricken region.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., praised the changes as an "added layer of protection against Ebola entering our country."

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest indicated President Obama still opposes a travel ban, but described Tuesday's announcement as an example of travel restrictions that can be "put in place to protect the American public."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.