President Donald Trump and coronavirus task force team give updates on the disease in a White House briefing.
The Trump administration will extend its European travel ban to include the U.K. and Ireland as part of continuing efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump said Saturday, before saying he was also looking at the possibility of domestic travel restrictions as well.
“We are looking at it very seriously, yeah, because they’ve had a little bit of activity unfortunately,” he said when asked in the White House briefing room about reports that the European travel ban would be extended. “So we’re going to be looking at that — we actually already have looked at it and that is going to be announced.”
Asked if he was considering any domestic travel restrictions, Trump said: “Yes, specifically from certain areas, yes we are.”
“We’re working with the states and we’re considering other restrictions, yes,” he said.
Vice President Mike Pence confirmed later in the briefing that the travel from U.K. and Ireland would be suspended as of midnight Monday night EDT. He said it was after the unanimous recommendation from health experts at the White House.
Pence emphasized that Americans currently abroad will be allowed to return home, but will be tested for the virus on their return through certain, limited airports. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said that it specifically applies to foreign nationals who have been in the U.K. or Ireland in the last 14 days and that it does not apply to U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents and foreign diplomats. It also does not apply to cargo.
Wolf also said that major cruise lines have agreed to suspend outbound trips for 30 days, that smaller lines had followed suit, and that in some limited cases the government had given orders to “a small handful” to not sail. Those restrictions began late Friday, he said.
As for whether the administration is considering travel restrictions within the U.S., Pence referred back to Trump’s remarks and said ”we’re considering a broad range of measures, but no decisions have been made yet.”
Trump announced late Wednesday that travel from Europe would be restricted for 30 days — but he initially exempted the U.K. and Ireland. The Department of Homeland Security went on to clarify that the ban affects most foreign nationals who were in Europe’s passport-free “Schengen Area” within 14 days prior to traveling to the U.S.
On Saturday, officials did not explicitly say whether the U.K. and Ireland ban would be subjected to the same 30-day timeframe as the broader ban.
The area in question consists of 26 countries, including France, Italy, German, Greece, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Norway, and Sweden. The Trump administration had slapped a travel ban on foreign nationals who had visited China and Iran last month.
“The U.K. basically has got the border, strong borders and they’re doing a very good job, they don’t have much infection and hopefully they’ll keep it that way,” he said when asked why the U.K. had been exempt.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is a close ally of Trump, who has in turn supported Johson’s push to take Britain out of the European Union. Critics had questioned whether Britain’s exemption was politically motivated.
The move also provoked anger from European leaders, who said they weren’t consulted and that the global pandemic requires “cooperation rather than unilateral action.”
“The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation,” EU Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement. “The European Union is taking strong action to limit the spread of the virus.”
In a sign of the increasing measures being taken across the country to protect the public from the coronavirus, all members of the media had their temperatures taken before the briefing — and one journalist was turned away. Trump said he had his temperature taken as well, and also said he had been tested for the virus.
“I also took the test,” Trump said. “I decided I should based on the press conference yesterday people were asking that I take the test.”
Asked about his temperature, Trump told reporters on his way out it was “totally normal.” Trump said his coronavirus test has been sent out to a lab and the results will take one or two days.
Fox News’ Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.