On Wednesday, President Trump announced that travel from 26 European countries – which comprise all of the members of the European Union’s Schengen Zone, which allows for visa-free travel between member states – would be halted for a period of 30 days in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, which the World Health Organization has declared a pandemic.
Most of the European Union’s member states are in the Schengen Zone and are thus affected by the ban. The ban went into effect on Friday.
American citizens currently in Europe are exempt from it, although if they return to the US while the ban is in effect, they will have to undergo an examination on landing and will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. Flights to the US will also be limited to landing at 13 airports, where passengers can be screened when disembarking.
On Saturday, the Trump administration added the United Kingdom and Ireland to the ban. It will go into effect on Monday.
President Trump called the ban “the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history.”
EU representatives were quick to condemn the President’s decision, which was enacted without them first being consulted. An official statement from the EU’s leadership indicated that the EU “disapproves of the fact that the US decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation.”
“We had to move quickly,” the President said in response to such criticisms, pointing out that European representatives had not consulted the US before their raising of tariffs on American goods in 2018. He also criticized the EU for not having taken similar precautions.
Robert Redfield, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, praised the President’s decision at a Congressional hearing. “Our real threat right now is Europe,” Redfield said. “That’s where the cases are coming in. If you want to just be blunt, Europe is the new China.”
China is the coronavirus’ place of origin.
There is presently no ban on flights from the US to Europe.