The United States President Donald Trump announced that due to the coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak, which killed 38 people and contaminated more than 1,200 in the country, all flights from Europe to the United States will be suspended from March 13, 2020, for a period of 30 days.
Entries of anyone that resided in the Schengen area during the fourteen days before their arrival will be prevented. People traveling from the United Kingdom, Ireland, and other non-Schengen countries, as well as U.S. citizens, their family members, and permanent residents are exempt from this measure. Goods and cargo are not affected by the ban either.
The president pointed at the failure of European countries to ban flights to and from China at the beginning of the outbreak and said the latest cases of coronavirus were brought to the U.S. by European nationals. “Our future remains brighter than anyone can imagine,” Trump concluded.
Hours before the travel ban, Acting Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said that the absence of hard borders due to the Schengen zone means that Europe may have to be treated “as a whole”.
“Europe is the new China”, Robert Redfield, the head of the Centers for Disease Detection and Prevention, declared. “That is where the cases come from”. Meanwhile, some routes between China and the United States are still being operated.
The measure is already receiving some criticism. “Most European countries are as safe as the United States,” said Lawrence Gostin, professor of public health at Georgetown University on Twitter. “We must prioritize public health, not be distracted by closing borders. The Covid-19 is already there; germs don’t stop at borders.”
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization qualified the coronavirus outbreak as a global pandemic. In an unprecedented measure, the State Department now advises U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to any country, extending the level of warning already applied for Italy and South Korea to the whole planet due to the global scale of the pandemic.