President Donald Trump bans travel from Europe for 30 days over coronavirus outbreak
President Donald Trump has ordered a ban on travel from Europe as coronavirus continues to spread in the United States. The ban will be in place for the next 30 days, and Americans currently in Europe will be allowed to return home. After the president spoke, the Department of Homeland Security clarified the president's remarks and walked back some of the comments.
Related: Should I travel?
Also tonight: Is the U.S. about to ban travel to Europe?
In an Oval Office address on coronavirus March 11 at 9pm ET., President Trump said, "We are marshaling the full power of the federal government. I am confident that we will significantly reduce the threat.. and defeat this virus."
The ban on travel from Europe will go into effect Friday, March 13 at Midnight and does not include Britain, Ireland, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales. The president had originally said last night that trade and cargo will also come to a halt under the new guidelines. That turns out not to be the case.
It also doesn't impact Turkey, Russia or other non-Schengen nations. The Schengen Area has free trade and open borders within much of Europe and includes countries like France, Austria, Germany, Estonia, Czech Republic, Italy, and Holland among others.
The ban will allow exemptions for Americans who have undergone screenings before returning home, but it is unclear at this point how they will be screened.
Related: Which airlines are offering the most flexibility for travelers affected by the coronavirus
The president suggested it was partly Europe's fault that the outbreak is now spreading in the U.S., saying, "The EU failed to restrict travel."
President Trump's new policies on coronavirus and travel were not without critics. Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants, said on Twitter following the announcement, "This is outrageous. President Travel Ban is destroying everything that makes our country great. No consultation with experts or stakeholders. Dismantled vital government programs that actually help. He’s isolating us from the world and destroying freedom."
As part of the new coronavirus policy, President Trump also stated that hospitals in the U.S. will waive co-payments for coronavirus treatments, and that his administration is "cutting red tape to make antivirals available." He also pointed to the newly-passed $8.3 billion coronavirus funding bill.
The president also said that, for the vast majority of Americans, risk of contracting the virus is low. He did acknowledge, however, that the highest infection risk is for the elderly and warned that this group in particular should avoid non-essential travel.
He also encouraged all Americans to follow the CDC's hygiene guidelines including:
- Washing hands
- Cleaning often-used surfaces
- Covering your mouth and nose when coughing
- Staying home if you're sick
More than 1,000 people in more than 35 states are sick, and testing has not been widespread.
Dr. Anthony Fauci - the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - said today, "Things will get worse than they are."
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad F Wolf issued a statement after the president's speech tonight saying, in part:
"Today President Donald J. Trump signed a Presidential Proclamation, which suspends the entry of most foreign nationals who have been in certain European countries at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the United States. These countries, known as the Schengen Area, include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. This does not apply to legal permanent residents, (generally) immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and other individuals who are identified in the proclamation."
The president said towards the end of the address, "Americans always rise to the challenge."
Related: Myth-busting: Will a face mask keep you safe from viruses on a plane?
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
Photo of the White House from Spring of 2019 by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.