The travel ban will affect all
non-EU nationals from visiting the bloc, except long-term residents, family
members of EU nationals and diplomats, cross-border and healthcare workers, and
people transporting goods.
Free travel is a cherished principle
within the European border-free Schengen area. However, in recent days many
countries have unilaterally imposed full or partial border shutdowns in a bid
to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
This prompted the EU Commission to
propose that the bloc act in a more unified fashion and restrict entry to the
union as a whole, at the urging of French President Emmanuel Macron.
The measures were agreed in a video-summit between EU leaders on March 17
and will now have to be implemented by member states.
EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said at a press conference: “They said they will immediately do
“This is good, so that we have a
unanimous and united approach [where] the external borders are concerned.”
The UK and the Republic of Ireland – which is part of the EU but not Schengen – will be invited to join the measure.
President Donald Trump has announced travel
restrictions on 26 European countries in a bid to combat the spread of the
The travel ban applies to travelers from countries which are members of the
Schengen border-free travel area.
The UK, Ireland and other non-Schengen countries (e.g. Bulgaria, Croatia and
Romania) are unaffected. US citizens are also exempt.
The European Union condemned the measures, which it said were taken
“unilaterally and without consultation”.
The new rules go into effect on March 13 at midnight EDT and mark a major
escalation from President Trump, who has been accused of inaction over
There are 1,135 confirmed cases of the virus across the US, with 38 deaths
President Trump said: “This is
the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in
Justifying the travel restrictions, Donald Trump accused the EU of failing
to take “the same precautions” as the US in fighting the virus.
The president’s speech said all travel from Europe would be suspended but a
presidential proclamation later said it would only apply to anyone who had been
in the EU’s Schengen border-free area in the 14 days before their arrival in
President Trump also said the suspension would also apply to cargo coming
from Europe into the US. He later tweeted to say that trade would “in no
way be affected”.
The speech included plans to provide billions of dollars in loans to small
businesses and the president urged Congress to free up more funds.
He said for most Americans the risk was “very, very low” adding
“no nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United
In its response, the EU said the coronavirus was “a global crisis, not
limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral
European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen and European Council
President Charles Michel said in a statement: “The EU disapproves of the fact that the US decision to impose a
travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation.”
Senior Democrats said it was “alarming” that President Trump did
not address a shortage of coronavirus testing kits in the US.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in
a statement: “The best way to help
keep the American people safe and ensure their economic security is for the
president to focus on fighting the spread of the coronavirus itself.”
On the travel ban, Lawrence Gostin, a public health expert at Georgetown
University, tweeted: “Most of Europe
is as safe as US. This will have no impact on US … germs don’t respect
Concern over the coronavirus outbreak rose after a number of new cases were
confirmed earlier this month.
Containment efforts have begun in earnest. Troops have been deployed to New
Rochelle, just north of NYC, where one outbreak is believed to have originated.
The National Guard will deliver food to some individuals who have been told
to self-isolate there.
The governor of Washington state has
also banned large gatherings in several counties. The north-western state is
the focal point of the outbreak in the US, accounting for 24 of at least 38
deaths across the country.
In an unprecedented move, the NBA
announced that it would suspend the season after the March 11 games. The
decision came after one player for the Utah Jazz tested positive for the virus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious
Diseases, told Congress that the outbreak is “going to get worse”,
and that depended on the ability to contain those infected.
High medical costs make the virus particularly problematic – many Americans
avoid visiting their doctor because of unaffordable charges. A lack of paid
sick leave is another concern, as are fears about the number of available
Vice-President Mike Pence, who is in charge of the task force co-ordinating the response to the crisis, has said that “any American can be tested, no restrictions, subject to doctor’s orders”, and that insurers had promised to offset the charges.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.