Travelers wait to be informed in the departure hall at the KLM Service Desk, as the travel ban for European countries announced…
Travelers wait to be informed at the KLM Service Desk, regarding the U.S. travel ban for some European countries, in Schiphol, Netherlands, March 12, 2020.

The Trump administration will be suspending travel from 26 European countries for 30 days, beginning Friday at midnight, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Vice President Mike Pence said Americans returning from Europe would need to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return.

The ban encompasses the nations that make up the Schengen area, a border-free-travel zone. Britain and Ireland are not part of the Schengen area.

Who will be affected by the U.S. travel ban?

The Department of Homeland Security said the order suspends the entry of most foreign nationals who have been in certain European countries at any point during the 14 days before their scheduled arrival in the United States.

Which countries are banned under the president’s proclamation?

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.

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Why was Britain left out of the ban?

U.S. President Donald Trump said in a speech Wednesday that he excluded Britain from his travel restrictions because it was doing a "good job" in fighting the coronavirus.

However, he blamed some European Union countries and said they failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hot spots.

“As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe,” Trump said.

Who is exempted under the ban?

It does not apply to U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, (generally) immediate family members of U.S. citizens, people invited to the U.S. for specific purposes, air and sea crew members, foreign diplomats, and those who do not pose a significant risk and should be let in for reasons of public interest.

How effective will this ban be?

Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst with the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, told VOA the country is in the community spread stage of the pandemic. Pouring resources into executing a travel ban right now “is misguided at best,” she said.

“Even if we were at more of a containment stage, we live in a globalized world. It's unfeasible for us to execute real travel bans because we have U.S. citizens who are constantly traveling all over the globe. And we legally have to let them back into the United States, no matter where they've been,” Pierce said.

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In a statement, though, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf 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."
"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,” Wolf said.

What happened in the outbreak's early days?

In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, the United States imposed restrictions on other places. Noncitizens coming from China and Iran were not allowed to enter the country. U.S. citizens who had been in China could enter the country, but their flights were directed to specific U.S. airports and they were required to undergo enhanced screening. They were subject to quarantine if they showed signs of the virus.

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