Trump expands travel ban to UK, Ireland over coronavirus concerns


President Trump has ordered for travel to be suspended from the United Kingdom and Ireland as the United States seeks to stem the spread of the coronavirus domestically.

The restrictions, which take effect Monday night at midnight, don’t apply to American travelers returning to the U.S., Vice President Pence said during a White House briefing on Saturday.

Before Pence formally announced the restrictions, Trump, who made his fourth appearance in the briefing room to discuss the coronavirus, indicated they were imminent during a back-and-forth with reporters.

“They’ve had a little bit of activity, unfortunately,” Trump told reporters at the briefing, referring to the U.K. and Ireland.

During the briefing, the president announced that he has been tested for the coronavirus and would have the results in a few days, saying he did so because of questions from the media.

Trump earlier this week announced restrictions on travelers from European countries that are part of the Schengen Area, with that ban taking effect Friday night at midnight.

Those restrictions, which Trump unveiled during a rare Oval Office address Wednesday evening, excluded the U.K. and Ireland. The decision prompted questions, given that the U.K. has reported more than 1,000 cases of coronavirus, more than other countries included in the restrictions.

Trump said Saturday his administration is also considering domestic travel restrictions.

“If you don’t have to travel, I wouldn’t do it. We want this thing to end. We don’t want a lot of people getting infected,” he said.

Pence noted that Americans and legal residents can still return from countries where travel has been suspended and will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said that the restrictions, like those announced earlier this week, would not apply to trade and cargo coming from the U.K. and Ireland.

Saturday’s announcement is one of several the Trump administration has rolled out in recent days as it seeks to mitigate the spread of the virus within the United States.

Trump on Friday declared a national emergency over the coronavirus, a move that opens up billions of dollars in funding for state officials to respond to the outbreak. He also said his administration would take steps to speed up testing, including by opening up “drive-thru” locations.

The House of Representatives overnight Friday passed legislation backed by Trump aimed at helping American families impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19. Among its provisions, the legislation ensures all Americans can receive free testing, offers paid family or sick leave, and bolsters unemployment benefits.

Several cities and states have banned large gatherings in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. There’s been a widespread cancellation of events, and many employers are telling their workers to stay at home. So-called social distancing measures are key to slowing the spread of the virus and ensuring hospitals aren’t overwhelmed by sick patients.

The proclamation issued by the White House on Wednesday prohibits travel by foreign nationals who have been physically present in European countries that are part of the Schengen Area during the 14 days before their attempted entry into the U.S.

Ireland is one of five European Union member countries that are not part of the Schengen Zone.

Updated: 1:30 p.m.

Tags Chad Wolf Coronavirus coronavirus outbreak COVID-19 Donald Trump Pence

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