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Trump’s Europe travel ban freaked everyone out, but there are two big things he got wrong

Published Mar 12th, 2020 12:54PM EDT
Europe travel ban
Image: Doug Mills/AP/Shutterstock

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  • Wednesday was a day filled with a dizzying array of news related to the continued spread of coronavirus in the US, ending with a speech from President Trump televised live from the Oval Office.
  • It capped a whirlwind of news from that same day which included everything from the World Health Organization declaring coronavirus a global pandemic, the NBA canceling its season, and Tom Hanks confirming he’s tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Trump’s speech was one more addition to public worry about all this since it added a ban on travel from Europe to the mix. However, there are two huge corrections to note about the speech.
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In an effort to show that the US is taking the coronavirus spread seriously, President Trump delivered a televised address from the Oval Office on Wednesday night that included announcing such dramatic steps as a ban on travel from Europe which also seemed to include a temporary halt on cargo shipped from Europe.

If it was meant to calm the panic that’s starting to spread around the country in the US, though, it backfired in a major way. The travel ban immediately brought more questions than answers, and it was one more head-spinning piece of news on a day that also included the World Health Organization declaring the virus a global pandemic, the NBA canceling the remainder of its season, and actor Tom Hanks disclosing that he and his wife have tested positive for the virus. Here’s the thing, though: There were at least two major errors in Trump’s speech that had to be clarified.

For one thing, the US Dept. of Homeland Security has issued a statement clarifying that the ban doesn’t apply to US citizens. Take a look at the first sentence in the statement below, referring to “most foreign nationals” —

During his speech, Trump defined the ban as a blanket prohibition on travel from Europe, with the exception of the United Kingdom. That statement above from the Acting Homeland Security Secretary, however, also seems to add Ireland as an exception, since it’s not included in the list of prohibited countries.

As he continued his speech, meanwhile, Trump also talked about a ban on cargo flights from Europe, as well. “These prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo but various other things as we get approval,” Trump said — although he went ahead and corrected himself via Twitter a few minutes after the speech, declaring that his ban is only intended for people:

The Europe travel ban is set to be enacted on Friday at midnight and to extend for 30 days, and there will no doubt be more clarity and guidance issued very soon around these and other items Trump discussed in his remarks last night. Chad Wolf, the Acting Homeland Security Secretary, has said the department in the next 48 hours will issue a notice “requiring US passengers that have been” traveling in certain parts of Europe to “travel through select airports where the US Government has implemented enhanced screening procedures.”

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.