U.S. President Donald Trump announced in a televised announcement on Wednesday, that the United States would sharply restrict travel to the United States from more than two-dozen European countries. Trump said that starting on Friday at midnight, there would be as a suspension of "all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days."
Trump made the announcement in a primetime address from the White House, that many people have said was meant to rebut the criticism that his administration has taken the COVID-19 pandemic crisis too lightly and that both the president and members of his administration have tried to create a message that the COVID-19 epidemic wasn’t serious and that the media and democrats were trying to politicize the epidemic – now categorized by the WHO as a pandemic.
Less than two weeks ago, the President tried to downplay the COVID-19 virus and said that there were only 15 people infected in the U.S. and that they would all be well within a short time. Since that time Trump has continuously downplayed the epidemic and his administrations response.
But immediately after his announcement, a spokesman for the administration had to clarify the President’s remarks and said the ban will apply only to foreign nationals and not to American citizens who had been screened before entering the country.
Later in the day, another White House spokesman was forced to clarify that Trump was not blocking goods from Europe, despite saying his ban would "apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo" across the Atlantic.
The clarifications aside, Trump's remarks from the Oval Office tried to deflect his administrations errors, and he categorized the COVID-19 outbreak as a "Chinese virus." Trump also blamed the European Union, saying that they have not been as diligent as his administration and he blamed the expanding number of people in the US testing positive for the coronavirus on European travelers.
Members of Trump’s White House also said that they intend to look at whether travel restrictions should include China, Japan, South Korea and all of Southeast Asia, with both travel bans and 14-day quarantines as a norm.
There was immediate critical response to Trump’s announcement.
• The European Union Commission has said it disapproves of Donald Trump's coronavirus travel ban, saying that the decision was made "without consultation."
• Trump was criticized for not including the United Kingdom and Ireland – countries that have Trump hotels and golf courses – in the ban, even though the UK estimates that 5,000 ~ 10,000 people in the country are infected with the coronavirus.
• Executives from airlines, said that they were not given any advance notice about the president’s decision and that their companies would encounter greater losses than already projected.
• The stock market also reacted negatively, with trading on the NYSE halted shortly after opening when a 7% decline in the market triggered a mechanism to halt trading. By the end of the day, Wall Street had its worst day since 1987 with the Dow Jones dropping by 10%.