Washington, D.C. – President Donald Trump announced tonight a 30-day travel ban from 26 European countries to the United States, which will take effect at midnight on Friday, seeking to contain the extension into the United States of the coronavirus pandemic. .
The ban will include most “foreign citizens” who want to enter the United States from much of Europe, excluding the United Kingdom, according to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf.
In his message to the American nation, from the Oval Office of the White House and broadcast by television networks, he said that the suspension would include the transport of cargo.RELATED
In his message to the American nation, from the Oval office in the White House, broadcast by television networks, the president had said that his decision sought to stop “anything”, including cargo. However, he later said on his Twitter account that the ban “stops people, not property.”
A White House fact sheet makes no allusion to a cargo transportation ban.
“To prevent new cases from entering our coasts, we will suspend all trips from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will take effect on Friday at midnight. These restrictions will be adjusted based on conditions on the ground, ”Trump said in his message.
He then spoke directly that the suspension will apply to trade and cargo transportation.
“There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone proper evaluations, and these prohibitions will apply not only to the huge amount of trade and cargo, but to other things as we get approval. Anything that comes from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing, “Trump added in the message.
Secretary Wolf later clarified that the presidential order does not apply to lawful permanent residents, immediate family members of US citizens, and, without specifying, “other persons identified in the presidential proclamation.”
Wolf said the order applies to “the majority of foreign citizens who have been in certain European countries at any time during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival in the United States.”
Trump, who in recent days has wanted to minimize the severity of the crisis, made the decision hours after the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the coronavirus had become a pandemic, that is, an epidemic that was It extends to various countries.
“We respond with great speed and professionalism. Acting intelligently today will prevent the virus from spreading tomorrow, “he said, although, amid his fears about falling markets, he also stated that” this is not a financial crisis, it is a temporary situation that we will overcome as a nation and world ” .
Previously, the United States had imposed a similar travel ban on China and Iran.
The expansion of the new restrictions will have a significant impact on airlines and the tourism industry.
The European countries included in the new travel restrictions are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway. , Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, according to Secretary Wolf.
As part of his measures, Trump asked senior homes to stop non-medical visits and confirmed that the federal government will increase the small business loan fund to $ 50 billion. “That will help small businesses deal with temporary outages,” he added.
Trump also indicated that he intends to defer the contribution payments of individuals and companies that have been adversely affected by the coronavirus crisis, which in his opinion will release another $ 200,000 million, and insisted on his proposal for Congress to authorize a reduction in the payroll payment to Social Security.
He said he will ask Congress to take action “to ensure that American workers impacted by the virus can stay home without fear of financial hardship.”
The United States House of Representatives plans to pass tomorrow, Thursday, a bill that includes paid sick leave to replace two-thirds of a worker’s salary, unemployment funds, and nearly $ 1 billion for emergency food allowances, among other things.
Later, the leadership of Congress, as Trump claims, can evaluate tax initiatives, according to the president of the Senate Finance Committee, the Republican Charles Grassley.
As of Wednesday, the federal government had confirmed the existence in the United States of over 1,100 cases of coronavirus, and 31 fatalities.
For “the vast majority of Americans: the risk is very, very low,” Trump said.
“Young and healthy people can expect to recover fully and quickly contract the virus. The greatest risk is to the elderly population with underlying health conditions. The elderly population must be very, very careful, “said the President of the United States.
Trump wanted to emphasize that the coronavirus started in China and described it as a “foreign virus.”
The Democratic leadership reacts
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Minority Leader Charles Schumer (New York) found it alarming that Trump will not speak of the lack of ‘kits’ for testing for the coronavirus.
“We have a public health crisis in this country and the best way to help keep the American people safe and ensure their economic security is for the President to focus on fighting the spread of the coronavirus itself. Alarmingly, the President did not say how the administration will address the lack of coronavirus test kits across the United States, “they said, in a joint statement.
They said the Democratic bill that will go to vote Thursday in the House “will include free tests for coronavirus, paid emergency leave for workers, food security assistance, aid to states overburdened by Medicaid costs and unemployment insurance strengthened, among other much-needed measures to keep Americans safe. “
Major blow to the aviation industry
President Trump’s decision to largely ban travel from Europe may be an unprecedented move and could have profound repercussions for economic activity in the United States and the rest of the world, particularly in the aviation sector.
Data from the United States Department of Transportation point out that for the 12-month period that ended in March 2019, passenger traffic between the United States and Europe reached 71.4 million. Of that number and specifically in March 2019, some 5 million passengers traveled between the United States and Europe.
According to the Transportation Department, in the 12-month period that ended in March 2019, 3.6 million tons of air cargo were transferred between the United States and Europe.
Of that number, in March last year alone, some 309,365 tons of air cargo were transported between the United States and Europe.
* Joanisabel González collaborated with this report