US President Donald Trump announced a 30-day ban on all travel to the United States from Europe except Britain.
The restriction, meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the US, begins Friday at midnight. It applies to 26 European countries, including the Czech Republic. It does not affect US citizens and their immediate relatives and permanent residents in the US.
The president also promised the possibility of postponing tax returns for three months for some companies and individuals. The US Department of State later called on all US citizens to consider traveling abroad. The World Health Organization, which identified the infection as a pandemic on Wednesday, should comment on the spread of the disease. French President Emmanuel Macron should also comment on the situation.
“This is the most daring and complex effort in modern history,” Trump said, announcing the new measures in Prime Time from the White House Oval Office in a speech to the nation. He accused the European Union of not acting quickly enough against a “foreign virus.” Clusters of infection in the US, he said, brought by travelers from Europe.
“We have made a life-saving step by acting early on China,” Trump said. “We must now act equally towards Europe,” the US President advocated travel restrictions. Trump said the restrictions would not apply to Britain and that the United States would monitor the situation so that they could resume travel earlier.
After initial confusion, Trump on Twitter stated that the restriction does not apply to the import of goods from Europe. “Restrictions stop people, not goods,” he stressed.
Trump said Europe missed the same measures as the US concerning reducing travel from China and other outbreaks of the crisis. “We’ve seen dramatically fewer cases of the virus in the US than in Europe now,” Trump said without mentioning that few people have been tested for COVID-19 in the US.
In the United States, 37 people have died of COVID-19 and are more than 1,100 infected according to statistics from the University of Baltimore. Only 11,000 people have been tested in the United States so far.