By Albert Traver
Washington DC, Mar 11 (efe-epa).- The president of the United Sates on Wednesday announced the suspension of all travel from Europe, except the United Kingdom, to the country in order to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The suspension will go into effect on Friday at midnight for the next 30 days, Donald Trump said in a televised address from his Oval Office.
“I have decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health and wellbeing of all Americans. To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States,” Trump announced.
The president said that the suspension seeks to include prohibition on the entry of “anything coming from Europe,” including trade and cargo.
In a later tweet, however, Trump said the ban “stops people, not goods.”
“These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground,” he added and said that those Americans who want to return from Europe and have undergone appropriate screenings will be exempted.
Trump said that COVID-19 was a, “foreign virus,” and blamed European countries for failing to take precautions.
“The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hotspots. As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe,” Trump said.
Trump also added that, amid the declining number of new cases in China and South Korea, his government will “reevaluate” the travel ban imposed on these countries.
“We are at a critical time in the fight against the virus. We made a life-saving move with early action on China. Now we must take the same action with Europe,” he said.
Following Trump’s announcement, the Department of Homeland Security released a statement saying the entry of foreign nationals who have been in Schengen Area at any point 14 days prior to their arrival to the US.
In addition to suspending travel from Europe, the president also announced a series of economic measures to counter the effects of the coronavirus.
Trump announced with immediate effect a government low-interest loan program for small businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak and said he will ask Congress for approval of an additional $50 billion to finance it.
He also announced an interest-free tax payment deferral for certain individuals and companies affected by COVID-19, which he said will provide $200 billion liquidity to the US economy.
In addition, the president insisted on Congress to approve “immediate payroll tax relief.”
Finally, Trump said he will approve an “unprecedented” emergency measure so that people who cannot work as a result of the coronavirus, whether due to illness, quarantine, or to take care of third parties, do not lose their wages.
He defended the strength of the US economy after the drastic stock market declines of the past few days, saying that banks and financial institutions are “fully capitalized and incredibly strong.”
“This is not a financial crisis, this is just a temporary moment of time that we will overcome together as a nation and as a world,” he said.
The country has more than 1,200 coronavirus cases and at least 36 people have died. EFE-EPA