President Donald Trump announced that the United States will be extending its European travel ban to the United Kingdom and Ireland during a Saturday morning press briefing on the COVID-19 virus, according to Fox News.
"We are looking at it very seriously, yeah, because they've had a little bit of activity unfortunately," Trump said when he was asked by a reporter about rumors that the European travel ban would be extended to the two nations. "So we're going to be looking at that -- we actually already have looked at it and that is going to be announced."
U.K. and Ireland Travel Bans
Vice President Mike Pence confirmed later that travel from the U.K. and Ireland would be suspended beginning at midnight Monday night. Pence said the decision was based on a unanimous recommendation by public health experts consulted by the White House.
Pence clarified that the restrictions do not apply to Americans who are currently abroad; however, the vice president said U.S. nationals will be tested for the virus upon their arrival at certain points of entry in the United States. Additionally, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said the travel ban applies to foreigners who have been in the U.K. or Ireland within the last 14 days.
Fox News also reported that the ban "does not apply to U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents and foreign diplomats," nor does it apply to trade cargo.
Domestic travel next?
President Trump also hinted that the administration is looking to temporarily curb domestic U.S. travel.
When he asked by a reporter if he was considering any U.S. 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," Trump added. Pence later explained the administration is "considering a broad range of measures," but said "no decisions have been made yet."
The European travel ban extension and possible domestic restrictions would be the latest in a series of measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.
On Wednesday, Trump announced the U.S. would limit travel from Europe for 30 days. At the time, the U.K. and Ireland were exempt from the measures, which were limited to Europe's "Schengen Area" consisting of 26 countries, including France, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, and Germany. In February, the Trump administration imposed travel restrictions on China and Iran.
As of Saturday afternoon, 2,499 Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus, which has claimed 57 lives in the U.S