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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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HEALTH

WHO says European festivals should go ahead despite monkeypox risk

Most new cases of monkeypox are currently detected in Western Europe. The World Health Organisation says this is no reason to cancel more than 800 festivals scheduled to take place on the continent this summer.

WHO says European festivals should go ahead despite monkeypox risk

The World Health Organization said Friday that European summer festivals should not be cancelled due to the monkeypox outbreak but should instead manage the risk of amplifying the virus.

A surge of monkeypox cases has been detected since May outside of the West and Central African countries where the disease has long been endemic.

Most of the new cases have been in Western Europe.

More than 3,200 confirmed cases and one death have now been reported to the WHO from 48 countries in total this year.

“We have all the summer festivals, concerts and many other events just starting in the northern hemisphere,” Amaia Artazcoz, the WHO’s mass gatherings technical officer, told a webinar entitled “Monkeypox outbreak and mass gatherings: Protecting yourself at festivals and parties”.

The events “may represent a conducive environment for transmission”, she said.

“These gatherings have really close proximity and usually for a prolonged period of time, and also a lot of frequent interactions among people,” Artazcoz explained.

“Nevertheless… we are not recommending postponing or cancelling any of the events in the areas where monkeypox cases have been identified.”

Sarah Tyler, the senior communications consultant on health emergencies at WHO Europe, said there were going to be more than 800 festivals in the region, bringing together hundreds of thousands of people from different countries.

“Most attendees are highly mobile and sexually active and a number of them will have intimate skin-to-skin contact at or around these events,” she said.

“Some may also have multiple sexual contacts, including new or anonymous partners. Without action, we risk seeing a surge in monkeypox cases in Europe this summer.”

Risk awareness

The UN health agency recommends that countries identify events most likely to be associated with the risk of monkeypox transmission.

The WHO urged festival organisers to raise awareness through effective communication, detect cases early, stop transmission and protect people at risk.

The outbreak in newly-affected countries is primarily among men who have sex with men, and who have reported recent sex with new or multiple partners, according to the WHO.

People with symptoms are advised to avoid attending gatherings, while people in communities among whom monkeypox has been found to occur more frequently than in the general population should exercise particular caution, it says.

The normal initial symptoms of monkeypox include a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a blistery chickenpox-like rash.

Meg Doherty, from the global HIV, hepatitis and sexually-transmitted infection programmes at WHO, said: “We are not calling this a sexually-transmitted infection.

“Stigmatising never helps in a disease outbreak,” she added.

“This is not a gay disease. However, we want people to be aware of what the risks are.”

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