In response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, President Trump has announced a 30-day ban on all travel from continental Europe. The President’s actions come a day after the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global pandemic, the first such designation since the H1N1 swine flu outbreak in 2009. The European travel ban, set to begin at midnight on Friday, does not apply to the United Kingdom.
While American citizens and legal residents are exempt from the travel restrictions, the U.S. State Department issued a Global Level 3 Health Advisory cautioning all U.S. citizens to reconsider travel abroad in light of the current spread of COVID-19. “Many areas throughout the world are now experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and taking action that may limit traveler mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions,” the advisory reads. “Even countries, jurisdictions, or areas where cases have not been reported may restrict travel without notice.”
The Department of Homeland Security indicated the President’s order prohibits entry to foreign nationals who have been in the following European nations within the last 14 days: 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. The nations affected all belong to what is known as the Schengen Area, which includes 26 countries who have abolished border controls and the need for passports at their mutual borders.
COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, the capital city of China's Hubei province. It has been traced to a marketplace that held and slaughtered wild and domesticated animals in close proximity. In the months since first being detected the disease has spread rapidly across the globe. The hardest hit nations include China, Italy, and Iran.
Italy has been the most impacted among the European nations now targeted by the ban, with an estimated 12,500 confirmed cases and 827 deaths to date. In response, Italy is in near-lockdown, with travel restrictions and mandatory closure of all shop except food stores, supermarkets, and pharmacies.
Shortly after Trump’s announcement, the NBA announced the suspension of the remainder of the regular season. This follows word that two players on the Utah Jazz, Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, had tested positive for COVID-19. Rather than suspend the remander of their games, the NCAA plans to go forward playing their year-end March Madness playoff tournaments before empty arenas.
Those planning to travel are encouraged to visit the State Department or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from more updated information on COVID-19 and relevant travel advisories. Travelers can also enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive alerts and to make themselves easier to locate in an emergency. Officials are working with airlines to waive fees in case of cancellations or changes in itinerary due to COVID-19 restrictions.