The U.S. travel ban on most flights from Europe, a part of the U.S. strategy in preventing the spread of the deadly coronavirus, has gone into effect.
U.S. President Donald Trump announced the ban Wednesday night in an address from the Oval Office.
The 30-day ban blocks most foreign visitors from 26 countries in Europe, while accepting those from Britain and Ireland.
Americans and American permanent residents who were abroad at the time of Trump's announcement were initially not sure if they would be allowed back into the country after Friday.
They are exempt from the ban, but that was not immediately clear in the president's address. Many of them scrambled to book flights back home before the ban went into effect.
Mark, a U.S. resident who was in Spain at the time of Trump's announcement, told Reuters that he came back "a little bit earlier" than planned."
Trump made the decision about the ban without consulting any European officials.
"The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation," Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, and Charles Michel, president of the European Council, said in a joint statement.
"The coronavirus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent, and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action," von der Leyen and Michel said. "The European Union is taking strong action to limit the spread of the virus."
All Americans returning from Europe will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival back in the U.S. to try to halt the spread of the coronavirus.