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COVID-19

Coronavirus: What you need to know about Trump’s Europe travel ban

US President Donald Trump has announced a travel ban from most European countries in response to the coronavirus spread.

Coronavirus: What you need to know about Trump's Europe travel ban
Donald Trump announces his Europe travel ban. AFP

The ban, which does not include the UK or Ireland, will begin at 11.59pm on Friday, March 13th and last for 30 days. It will include all countries in Europe's Schengen area.

That means all foreign nationals, unless they are exempt from the ban (see below) won't be allowed to board planes for the US from Schengen countries while the ban is in place.

The restrictions do not apply to permanent residents in the US who need to get home to the US or their close family members, although it is possible that airlines may cancel flights in the days ahead as passenger numbers fall.

The countries in the Schengen area are: 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.

Trump blamed EU countries for not acting quickly enough to stem the spread of the “foreign virus”. The president had previously banned travel from China when the virus was spreading rapidly through the country.

“The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hotspots. As a result a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travellers from Europe.”

At least 1,257 people in 44 states and Washington, DC have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the latest figures from the New York Times database. At least 37 patients with the virus have died.

In Europe the number of cases has passed the 22,000 mark with 930 deaths.

Trump said: “In total, as of March 9th, 2020, the Schengen Area has exported 201 COVID-19 cases to 53 countries. Moreover, the free flow of people between the Schengen Area countries makes the task of managing the spread of the virus difficult.”

What we know about who is affected by the ban and who isn't

It affects most foreign nationals who have been in Schengen area countries for 14 days before the ban comes into place at 11.59pm Friday March 13th.

It won't affect flights that depart before then but are due to land in the US after that time.

“I have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict and suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of all aliens who were physically present within the Schengen Area during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States,” reads the full text of the restrictions.

The restriction doesn't apply to travel from the UK or Ireland, but it was unclear how US authorities plan to deal with foreign nationals travelling from Europe to the US via those countries.

Permanent residents of the US are not affected by the ban as are certain family members such as their children. Children of US nationals or permanent residents will also be allowed entry.

Legal spouses of US citizens or permanent residents are also not affected as are parents of US citizens or permanent residents as long as their children are unmarried and under the age of 21.

Siblings of US citizens or permanent residents are also exempt, “provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21.”

Other exceptions are made for foreign nationals including crew members on planes or boats, UN or Nato employees and those travelling on the invitation of the US government.

It also exempts “any alien whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus, as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services”.

The US Department of Homeland Security has said that further guidance on the travel suspension will come within the next two days.

The declaration warns that: “An alien who circumvents the application of this proclamation through fraud, willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or illegal entry shall be a priority for removal by the Department of Homeland Security.

How has Europe reacted?

So far reaction to Trump's ban has been muted but that may change throughout the day.

President of the European Council Charles Michel tweeted “we will assess the situation today.”

“Economic disruption must be avoided. Europe is taking all necessary measures to contain the spread of the COVID19 virus, limit the number of affected people and support research.”

The World Health Organisation has previously advised against closing borders and banning international travel.

 

Member comments

  1. The restriction doesn’t apply to travel from the UK, but it was unclear how US authorities plan to deal with foreign nationals travelling from Europe to the US via the UK. EXACTLY.
    Can we spell IRRESPONBIBLE?

  2. You need to have your passport associated to your ticket days in advance of your flight to USA. When we flew back to the USA from Sweden we went from Stockholm to Denmark, thru Danish passport kontrol then to the USA so the passport had multiple stamps plus RFID so they’d know when you board the plane with final destination to USA where you came from and would probably exclude you from boarding. In the airport you were screened and kept in a separate area so they knew who was cleared to go to the USA (and this was 2016 in Copenhagen). I would not call myself a big supporter of the president, but if everyone gets sick at once, health care will be overwhelmed. We are all going to get this eventually most likely, but by delaying transfer it’ll spread out the cases.

    I can remember days when one kid got chicken pox other parents sent their kid over so they’d get it too, this isn’t like that. You don’t want this and shouldn’t circulate it.

  3. So, apparently, the Virus was introduced to America by Foreigners visiting the USA? He must mean that, as U.S. Citizens can still fly Home from the E.U.
    I wonder what would have been his reaction if the E.U. had at the get-go stopped flights to the U.S.A. so therfore stopping any US Citizens flying Home!
    Hmmmm…

  4. The US citizens or permanent residents won’t Carry or spread the virus, how does Trump know this? It’s important to come home and be with families but being safe is the most important. So why ban only Schengen Zone residents?

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COVID-19

OUTLOOK: Could Switzerland introduce Covid rules this autumn?

After several months of a relatively low number of coronavirus cases in Switzerland, the rate of infections rose by over 22 percent in a span of seven days this week. What measures are Swiss health officials planning to prevent a new wave?

OUTLOOK: Could Switzerland introduce Covid rules this autumn?

The Swiss government has said that “further waves of infections are to be expected in the fall/winter of 2022/2023″.

As in previous waves, “the main objective of managing the pandemic is to prevent an overload of the health system. It is currently difficult to predict the magnitude of the waves of infection and, therefore, the burden on the healthcare system”, it added.

According to current estimates, “it can be assumed that ordinary structures will be sufficient to manage the situation”.

However, unless new, deadly variants emerge in the near future, health officials  expect the new wave to be milder than the ones  that struck in the winter of 2020 and 2021.

There are several reasons for this optimism:

Higher immunity

Due to vaccinations and infections, “it is estimated that 97 percent of the Swiss population has been in contact with the virus”, which means that “immunity within the population is currently high”, authorities said.

Lighter course

This means that unlike the early Covid strains like Alpha and Delta, which were highly virulent, the latest dominant mutation — Omicron and its subvariants — while highly contagious, are also less dangerous for most people.

New vaccines

The new version of the Moderna vaccine, which should better target certain sub-variants of Omicron, will be rolled in Switzerland from October 10th.

Compared to the original vaccine, which was effective mostly against early strains and offered no protection against Omicron, “the new vaccine produces a stronger immune response against the Omicron variants BA.1 and BA.4/5″, according to the drug regulatory body, Swissmedic.

READ MORE: BREAKING: Switzerland approves new Covid-19 boosters

Is the government planning any specific measures this winter?

While the severity of the new wave is not yet known, authorities have made several ‘just-in-case’ provisions by, for instance, extending the Covid-19 law until June 2024.

This legislation, which was approved in a referendum in November 2021, allows the Federal Council to maintain and apply emergency measures that are necessary to manage the pandemic. Without the extension, ithe law would lapse in December of this year.

READ MORE: Covid-19 law: How Switzerland reacted to the referendum results

“No one wants to reactivate the Covid law. But after two years of the pandemic, we have understood that we must be ready”, said MP Mattea Meyer.

While no mask mandates or other restrictions are being discussed at this time, the re-activated legislation would allow the authorities to quickly introduce any measures they deem necessary, according to the evolution of the epidemiological situation.

More preparations from the cantons

As it would be up to the cantons to apply measures set by the federal government, some have asked that financing be made available in case regional hospitals have to again accommodate patients from other cantons.

They are also making sure enough intensive care beds are ready for Covid patients.

What about the Covid certificate and tracing?

Though it is no longer used in Switzerland, the certificate continues to be required abroad.

The government will ensure its international compatibility.

The legal basis for the SwissCovid tracking app will also remain in force and can be reactivated during the winter of 2023/2024, if necessary.

MPs are also debating possible rules to be enforced for cross-border workers in the event of border closures.

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