In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, President Donald Trump announced that his administration would be rolling new travel restrictions, prohibiting most travel from Europe to the US. The restrictions will start on Friday, March 13 and last for 30 days. This travel ban does not affect flights from the United Kingdom.
According to the Department of Homeland Security’s acting secretary, Chad Wolf, the Trump administration will suspend entry into the US for “most foreign nationals” traveling from certain European countries 14 days prior to arrival. Trump initially alluded to the ban affecting trade, but walked back that statement in a later tweet writing “trade will in no way be affected.”
The travel restriction applies to foreign nationals who have been in 26 European countries with open borders agreements, in the last 14 days.— The White House (@WhiteHouse) March 12, 2020
Those exempt from these restrictions, such as U.S. citizens, will be directed to limited airports where screening can take place.
“There will be exceptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings,” Trump said in the speech. It’s not clear how the restrictions will actually impact trade.
The administration had previously placed travel restrictions on China, which is hardest-hit by the novel coronavirus. The effects of those restrictions and other, similar restrictions remains unknown. A recent study that modeled the virus’ spread found that at this point travel restrictions are likely to only have limited effectiveness at stopping the virus. It encouraged governments to focus on efforts to prevent transmission of the virus — through hygiene efforts like handwashing, and social distancing.
Trump also used the Oval Office address on Wednesday to lay out his administration’s plan to address the pandemic and its economic and financial consequences.
Trump did not declare a state of emergency during Wednesday’s address, but said that he would use his executive power to move forward with emergency financial relief in the future. He did not give a timeline for making this relief available, but said that the administration would be providing financial help to workers afflicted by coronavirus and their caregivers.
Trump said that annual tax payments will be deferred for people who are negatively affected by the disease and the administration will “immediately” be making loans available to small businesses suffering from disruptions due to the virus.
“Smart action today will prevent the spread of the virus tomorrow,” Trump said during his address. “Each of us has a role to play in defeating this virus.”
As of Wednesday, the US has confirmed around 1,200 cases of the novel coronavirus in states all across the country. As the number of cases continues to grow, state officials have declared states of emergency and asked for large events, including political rallies and sports games, to be canceled at least for the next few weeks. The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic Wednesday.
Last week, Trump signed an $8.3 billion emergency spending bill to address the coronavirus pandemic. The money will go toward researching and developing a vaccine for the virus and providing medical equipment to healthcare workers.
Updated 3/11/20 at 11:00PM ET: After the address ended Wednesday, the White House clarified statements from the president suggesting that some American citizens would be banned from entering the country due to the new travel ban. “Most foreign nationals” traveling from certain European countries will be prohibited from entering the US over the next 30 days. Trade is not affected by the ban.