UPDATED: Is the US about to ban travel to Europe?
Editor's note: Since this piece was first published, the White House did indeed ban travel from certain countries in Europe. All the details are here.
Some pretty shocking conversations are happening at the highest levels of the U.S. government tonight. CNN is reporting the Acting U.S. Department of Homeland Security secretary told lawmakers during a hearing on the spread of coronavirus that travel restrictions for all of Europe are under discussion. CNN also reported, citing two officials familiar with the matter, that the subject was discussed at a White House meeting today, Wednesday March 11.
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Among the most radical moves under consideration: raising the alert level for Europe, and a recommendation against any travel to Europe for Americans. Another proposal would mandate new quarantine measures for anyone returning from Europe and ending all flights. It appears that countries in the U.K. would be exempt from these measures.
The Washington Post reports the White House is considering putting all of Europe under a Level 3 travel advisory discouraging all nonessential travel. South Korea and Italy already have a Level 3 warning.
Acting Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli at a hearing on Capitol Hill today said, "The question is a live question.. ..about how to treat Europe as a whole. You've seen Department of State and CDC warnings go up. That is not to the level of using legal authorities to block travel yet, but it is under discussion."
Cuccinelli also pointed out that Europe allows free movement throughout European Union nations, "they don't have borders for the purposes of travel."
His comments come on the same day that the World Health Organization said the coronavirus outbreak was indeed a global pandemic.
Also Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other senators are preparing a letter demanding President Donald Trump issue an emergency declaration for the whole country.
CNN is reporting the minority leader, along with Democratic Senators Patty Murray of Washington and Gary Peters of Michigan, want a formal declaration, allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to use more than $40 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund to assist local state government in their response to the coronavirus.
Additional resources for traveling during the coronavirus outbreak:
- How coronavirus is impacting airline award availability
- How coronavirus has left the travel industry reeling
- Airlines scale back inflight offerings due to coronavirus
- How to ward off coronavirus in your hotel room
- Guide to traveling during the coronavirus outbreak
- Extreme measures cruise lines are taking during coronavirus