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Coronavirus: Trump suspends travel from most European countries - but not Ireland or UK

The Taoseach was forced to leave a gala in Washington DC this evening to be briefed by his officals.

Image: Doug Mills

Updated Mar 12th 2020, 8:08 AM

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP has said he is suspending all travel between the US and most of the European Union for 30 days as he seeks to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a TV address, Trump said the “strong but necessary” restrictions would begin on Friday and would not apply to the UK. Officials later confirmed that the ban does not apply to Ireland either because it it not part of the Schengen area. 

In the Oval Office address to the nation, Trump blamed the European Union for not acting quickly enough to address the “foreign virus” and claimed US clusters were “seeded” by European travellers.

The countries from the Schengen Area to which the ban applies, include: 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 ban suspends entry into the US for most foreign nationals who have been in these countries at any point during the 14 days prior arrival. 

The ban does not apply to US citizens, legal permanent residents and immediate family members of US citizens. 

In response to the move, European Council President Charles Michel tweeted that the EU will assesses the ban but that “economic disruption must be avoided.”

Leo Varadkar

The planned St Patrick’s Day reception and traditional shamrock presentation at the White House has also been cancelled.

It is not yet known if the shamrock bowl handover will happen at another time during the day, perhaps at the Oval Office meeting.

When the news broke this evening Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who is in Washington DC and due to meet with the president tomorrow, was whisked away at the Irish Funds Gala to be briefed on the situation by his officials, including Secretary General of the Department of An Taoiseach Martin Fraser this evening.

The Taoiseach has now left the gala but is due to speak to the Irish media later. 

Source: CNBC Television/YouTube

The World Health Organization yesterday declared the spread of the coronavirus as a pandemic.

The number of confirmed cases of the infection topped 1,000 in the US and there have now been 43 cases in the Republic of Ireland.

“We made a lifesaving move with early action on China,” Trump said. “Now we must take the same action with Europe.”

The number of cases in the UK reached 460 today. 

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Trump said the restrictions won’t apply to the United Kingdom and the US  would monitor the situation to determine if travel could be reopened earlier.

Trump said he was also directing agencies to provide unspecified financial relief for “for workers who are ill, quarantined or caring for others due to coronavirus,” and asked Congress to take action to extend it.

Tweet by @Donald J. Trump Source: Donald J. Trump/Twitter

“This is not a financial crisis,” he said. “This just a temporary moment of time that we will overcome together as a nation and as a world.”

Trump signed the order for the travel ban which will be implemented by the US Department of Homeland Security.

Acting Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security said: “The actions President Trump is taking to deny entry to foreign nationals who have been in affected areas will keep Americans safe and save American lives.” 

“I applaud the president for making this tough but necessary decision. While these new travel restrictions will be disruptive to some travelers, this decisive action is needed to protect the American public from further exposure to the potentially deadly coronavirus.”

With reporting by Rónán Duffy

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