WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump said in a nationally televised address that the United States will suspend “all travel” from Europe to the United States for 30 days in an effort to stem the spread of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking from the Oval Office in the White House on March 11, Trump said the travel suspension will begin on March 13 and said the restrictions will not apply to screened U.S. citizens and to Britain.
Trump also announced a series of financial measures, including deferment of tax payments for some people to reduce the effects of the virus on the economy.
“To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday [March 13] at midnight,” Trump said.
Trump claimed that Europe has had more cases of the COVID-19 virus because governments there failed to take steps that he said Washington has taken, including the halting of travel from China, where the outbreak began.
“We made a lifesaving move with early action on China. Now, we must take the same action with Europe,” he said.
Italy has been the hardest-hit country in Europe and has taken dramatic measures to fight the outbreak.
The government there ordered all stores except for pharmacies and food shops to close after the coronavirus has killed 827 in the country in the past two weeks.
Meanwhile, U.S. states and local communities are taking drastic steps to fight the intensifying crisis, with communities canceling public gatherings and major sporting events, closing schools, and universities switching to online classes.
Also on March 11, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a state of emergency in the national capital as the number of cases there reached 10.
The main basketball league in North America — the National Basketball Association (NBA) — announced late on March 11 that it was suspending the current season until further notice, AP reported.
Infections in the United States have surpassed 1,200, with 37 reported deaths. Most of the fatalities are linked to a nursing home in the city of Seattle, Washington.
Worldwide, more than 118,000 people have been infected and nearly 4,300 people have died, most of them in China.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11 finally declared coronavirus a pandemic after weeks of monitoring its global spread.