US President Donald Trump has declared a lock-down on travel from Europe over the Coronavirus pandemic, blaming the European Union (EU) for rising infections in the US. The move threatens to further put pressure on belly capacity, already tight from the substantial scaling back of passenger flights around the globe.
“To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days,” Trump says. But this includes an exemption for the UK, for which he did not explain. The UK has had six coronavirus deaths so far and has 373 cases, including the country’s health minister.
While Trump indicated that the ban would also “apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo”, officials later clarified that the ban applies only to passengers and not cargo.
The travel ban applies to those countries in the Schengan zone: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finaland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Trump made the announcement in a rare Oval Office address to the US populous. The US has nearly 1,000 corona virus cases with 29 deaths so far.
In his address, Trump blamed the European Union for not acting quickly enough to address the novel coronavirus saying US clusters were “seeded” by European travelers.
“The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hot spots,” Trump says. “As a result a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travel.”
Trump said the restrictions won’t apply to the UK and the US would monitor the situation to determine if travel could be reopened earlier.
Trump also promised to deliver the “most aggressive and comprehensive effort to combat a virus” in modern history. This includes aggressive measures like the expansion of travel bans to slow the spread of the virus.
Aside from the UK exemptions, exemptions will also be made for American travelers who have undergone screenings. The new travel ban will go into effect Friday at midnight.