US President Donald Trump has suspended all travel between the United States and Europe, excluding the UK, for 30 days starting on Friday as he seeks to combat the coronavirus.
Trump made the announcement in an Oval Office address to the nation on Wednesday, blaming the European Union for not acting quickly enough to address the outbreak of the virus and saying US clusters were “seeded” by European travellers.
The president said the US would monitor the situation to determine if travel could be reopened earlier.
Trump said “we are marshalling the full power” of the government and private sector to protect the American people.
He also announced the US would defer tax payments due to the government for some impacted filers for three months amid measures to lessen the financial impact of virus.
Trump had been reportedly considering new travel advisories, a national disaster declaration and a delay in the tax filing deadline.
Congress, for its part, unveiled a multi-billion dollar aid package that was expected to be voted on by the House as soon as Thursday.
The action @POTUS is taking to deny entry to foreign nationals who have been in coronavirus-affected areas will keep Americans safe & save lives. These are not easy decisions but they are required. I will issue guidance within 48 hours outlining details.https://t.co/KYXE7JKswCpic.twitter.com/zgi6r5FoZq
— Acting Secretary Chad Wolf (@DHS_Wolf) March 12, 2020
Hoping to get the payroll tax cut approved by both Republicans and Democrats, and please remember, very important for all countries & businesses to know that trade will in no way be affected by the 30-day restriction on travel from Europe. The restriction stops people not goods.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 12, 2020
After days of playing down the threat, Trump changed gears with his Oval Office address.
The mounting effort to contain the virus and financial fall-out intensified on a gruelling day.
Communities cancelled public events nationwide, universities moved to cancel in-person classes, and families grappled with the impact of disruptions to public schools.
The number of confirmed cases of the infection topped 1,000 in the US and the World Health Organisation declared the global crisis was now a pandemic.