President Donald Trump announced late Wednesday that the United States will impose a 30-day travel ban on travelers from Europe amid coronavirus concerns.
The ban will come into effect on Friday at midnight and excludes non-Schengen countries like the United Kingdom and Ireland, as well as returning Americans who have had “appropriate screenings” for the virus.
“This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history,” Trump said in a live-streamed address to the nation at 9 p.m. ET. “I am confident that by counting and continuing to take these tough measures, we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens, and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus.”
“These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground. There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings and these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval,” Trump added. “Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing.”
In a Twitter post following the national address, Trump clarified that it is “very important for all countries & businesses to know that trade will in no way be affected by the 30-day restriction in travel from Europe” and that the restriction “stops people not goods.”
Trump signed a proclamation that suspends the entry of most foreign nationals who have been in countries in Europe’s Schengen Area within 14 days of their scheduled arrival to the United States. The countries 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.
“We made a life-saving move with early action on China. Now, we must take the same action with Europe,” Trump said in his address, referring to how his administration suspended travel from China to the United States on Jan. 31.
“The European Union failed to take the same precautions to restrict travel from China and other hotspots. As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe,” Trump noted.
Trump reassured Americans that the government is providing $8.3 billion to “support vaccines, treatments, and distribution of medical supplies” as well as fund the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies as they combat the virus.
He also announced that low-interest loans are available to small businesses to help them “overcome temporary economic disruptions caused by the virus.”
“This is not a financial crisis. This is just a temporary moment of time that we will overcome together as a nation, and as a world,” Trump said.
“We will provide extra support for American workers, families, and businesses,” Trump said.
“I am instructing the Small Business Administration (SBA) to exercise available authorities to provide capital and liquidity to firms affected by the coronavirus.
“Effective immediately, the SBA will begin providing economic loans in affected states and territories.”
Trump also said that he would soon be asking Congress to take emergency action to provide financial relief for “workers who are ill, quarantined, or caring for others due to coronavirus.”
Trump also called for unity and asserted that the country is prepared to combat the new coronavirus.
“The virus will not have a chance against us. No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States. We are all in this together. We must put politics aside, stop the partisanship, and unite together as one family and one nation.
“Acting with compassion and love, we will heal the sick, care for those in need, help our fellow citizens, and emerge from this challenge stronger and more unified than ever before.”
Cases of the coronavirus have exceeded 1,000 in the United States and the death toll has increased to 36 as of late Wednesday.
The Trump administration launched a coronavirus task force on Jan. 29 to monitor and combat the virus. The task force has been meeting daily. On Jan. 31, the president declared a public health emergency in the United States, just a day after the World Health Organization decided to declare the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.
More recently, Trump met with several leaders of major U.S. health insurance companies, who have agreed to waive copayments on COVID-19 testing and will extend coverage on treatment.
The new coronavirus was first reported to have emerged in Wuhan, a city in China’s Hubei Province in late 2019, and notable outbreaks have since been reported in Iran, Italy, and South Korea.
Melanie Sun contributed to this report.