US President Donald Trump has announced travel restrictions on 26 European countries to combat the spread of the coronavirus. But the European Union condemns the measure which it said were taken “unilaterally and without consultation”.
The ban applies to travelers from countries which are members of the Schengen border-free travel area.
The UK, Ireland and other non-Schengen countries are unaffected. US citizens are also exempt.
The new rules go into effect on Friday at midnight EDT (0400 GMT) and mark a major escalation from the US president, who has been accused of inaction over the coronavirus.
Trump announced that the US will impose a 30-day ban on foreigners who in the past two weeks have been in the European Union’s Schengen Zone, the 26 countries that abolished border and passport controls at their mutual borders to encourage free flow of goods, people and services.
There are 1,135 confirmed cases of the virus across the US, with 38 deaths so far.
However, Trump had admitted he hadn’t told the Europeans what was coming.
“We get along very well with European leaders, but we had to make a decision and I didn’t want to take time and, you know, it takes a long time make the individual calls and we are calling and we had spoken to some of them prior to (the announcement),” Trump told reporters Thursday.
On Thursday, Trump not only contradicted his own statement about communicating with allies, telling reporters that he didn’t consult European leaders before his speech, but he also implied the diplomatic affront was meant as payback.
Trump suggested the lack of communication was justified because European countries don’t inform him when they raise taxes on the US. “When they raise taxes on us, they don’t consult us and I think that’s probably one in the same,” Trump said.
Meanwhile, shares around the world fell further following President Trump’s announcement. At the start of US trading, shares plunged triggering an automatic temporary suspension in trading aimed at curbing panicky selling.