- The official response of the US government to the coronavirus outbreak has now included the extraordinary measure of banning all travel from Europe to the US for 30 days starting on Friday at midnight. The United Kingdom is an exception to this ban.
- President Trump announced the move in a brief but significant Oval Office address televised live Wednesday night that included a number of other steps, including financial relief to various businesses and individuals. The European travel ban, though, drew immediate focus because of how major a step this is.
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In an address tonight from the Oval Office, President Trump announced a range of measures meant to step up the US response to the coronavirus crisis, and one of them includes the extraordinary step of banning all travel from Europe to the US starting on Friday for 30 days.
The European travel ban does not apply to travel from the United Kingdom, but there are still tons of questions about what this all means and how it will be enforced. There were also a number of unanswered questions as of Wednesday night about what this means for cargo — to what degree shipments from Europe will be cut off, for example, and what approvals the White House needs to implement such a move.
Trump announced the ban on travel from Europe in practically the same breath as he cast a degree of blame on the continent, saying it was too slow in responding to the virus — an allusion to the outbreak now ravaging Italy to the degree that the entirety of that country is now on lockdown. This also comes late on the same day that the World Health Organization formally declared the virus, which has killed more than 4,500 people globally and is responsible for more than 123,000 infections, to be a global pandemic.
The major action announced tonight by @realDonaldTrump is a travel ban on Europe? Goes against @WHO declaration of pandemic, which means #covid19 is everywhere and it's not going to work to close your borders. (1/2)
— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) March 12, 2020
“This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history,” Trump said during the address. “I am confident that by … continuing to take these tough measures we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus.”
Tonight’s address was one more significant, confidence-shattering piece of news on a day when the stock market continues to be roiled by fear over the disease, which has led to more than 1,100 infections in the US presently. New infections continue to be identified around the country, meanwhile, major events canceled, sports events proceeding without live audiences — and the NBA has also taken the step of suspending the balance of its season, which was announced Wednesday night.