United States President Donald Trump announced in a televised address from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening that the US will institute a complete travel ban to and from Europe as of midnight on Friday.
This sweeping decision was first hinted at by Acting Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli on Wednesday, who admitted that banning travel to the European continent was now part of the conversation at the Department while speaking in a Congressional Subcommittee hearing on the federal response to the pandemic.
President Trump, citing the “lifesaving action” taken by the US regarding Asian travel restrictions at the outset of the crisis, maintained that similar strict measures were needed now to contain the spread of the virus due to the spread of the virus on the European continent.
Greek Reporter had exclusively reported the (then) potential ban two weeks before its announcement.
In addition to the travel ban, Trump said he is “cutting massive amounts of red tape” in order to make a host of antiviral medicines available as soon as possible. He added that the testing for a vaccine is “expanding rapidly day by day” and expressed firm optimism that such an antidote would be available soon.
Cuccinelli had earlier said the “the question is a live question… about how to treat Europe as a whole. You’ve seen Department of State and CDC warnings go up. That is not to the level of using legal authorities to block travel yet, but it is under discussion.”
The nation of Italy presents an extremely difficult problem for Homeland Security officials since the virus has cut a broad swath through the country, with a total of more than 12,000 people currently suffering from the virus and more than 800 succumbing to the disease as of Wednesday.
However, the unique nature of the borderless Schengen Area within Europe presents an enormous problem since there are no legal controls for individuals at borders and people and goods flow freely. There would have been no point, according to some experts, of instituting a travel ban to Italy alone.