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US restricts travel from EU: What you need to know

March 12, 2020

US President Donald Trump has announced a 30-day travel ban on most foreign nationals who have been in 26 European countries in the last 14 days. The ban does not include US citizens.

A board with flight cancelations
Image: Reuters/R. Orlowski

Who will be affected by the ban?

The restriction applies to citizens of countries other than the United States who have been present in any of the 26 Schengen Area countries over the last 14 days preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.

The Schengen Area is a zone of visa-free travel that comprises 26 European states: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

The travel restrictions will go into effect on March 13, 2020, 11:59 p.m. (EDT), (0359, March 14 UTC), and apply for 30 days. 

Read moreCoronavirus latest: Trump suspends travel from Europe's Schengen countries

Is anyone exempt from the restrictions?

US citizens who are currently in the EU will be permitted entry to the United States. The White House said people arriving in the US and exempt will be "directed to limited airports where screening can take place."

Great Britain and Ireland, which are not part of the Schengen Zone, are not included in the travel ban. Neither are the European countries of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania.

The restrictions will not apply to: 

  • Any lawful permanent resident of the US and any foreign national who is the spouse of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident.
  • Foreign nationals who are parents or legal guardians of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident.
  • Foreign nationals who are siblings of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, and who are under 21 years old and unmarried.
  • Foreign nationals who are foster children of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident.
  • Any member of the US armed forces.

The travel ban does not apply to anyone aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the US that departed prior to 11:59 p.m. EDT on March 13, 2020

Read moreWhat you need to know about the coronavirus

Trump also said the ban affects "people, not goods" and emphasized that the US remains "committed to facilitating trade between our nations."

Why did the US make this decision now?

In a statement, the White House said the US is "unable to effectively evaluate and monitor all of the travelers continuing to arrive from the Schengen Area."

"The potential for undetected transmission of the virus by infected individuals seeking to enter the United States from the Schengen Area threatens the security of our transportation system, infrastructure and national security."

According to the White House, 201 COVID-19 cases have been "exported" from the Schengen Area to 53 countries.

"The free flow of people between the Schengen Area countries makes the task of managing the spread of the virus difficult."

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