The U.S. will suspend all travel from Europe to the United States for 30 days in the latest dramatic response to the growing pandemic caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
President Donald Trump announced the European travel restrictions in a somber address to the nation Wednesday night from the Oval Office. The travel restrictions, which take effect at midnight on Friday, do not include the U.K., Trump said, adding that the travel shutdown will be “adjusted subject to conditions on the ground.”
“We are in a critical time in the fight against the virus,” he said.
Trump promised to push for legislation in Congress that will provide emergency relief for workers who are sidelined by the coronavirus. The president will also seek an emergency payroll tax cut and tax relief and waivers for businesses “negatively impacted” by the crisis. Those measures together will add “more than $200 billion of additional liquidity to the economy,” a statement that suggested federal officials are bracing for fallout from the stock market meltdown of the past few weeks and the slowdown in business.
Trump vowed to push health care providers to waive co-payments for coronavirus treatments. He also promised to deliver aid and loans to small businesses that will be hard hit by the sudden contraction of business activity as millions of Americans are urged to work from home and avoid crowds.
Trump called the crisis sparked by the global pandemic “a moment in time that we will overcome as a nation.”
Political commentators noted that Trump’s grave tone was a marked shift from his attitude in recent weeks, when he has gone so far as to suggest that coronavirus was a “hoax” perpetrated by his political rivals.
In his opening remarks, Trump tried to make the case that the U.S. response to the outbreak was swift and expertly handled, which is in sharp contrast to criticism directed at the federal government from a host of experts and U.S. allies.
“We are moving very quickly. For the vast majority of Americans the risk is very, very low,” he said. “We are responding with great speed and professionalism.”
Trump noted that the U.S. recently triggered the first federally mandated quarantine in more than 50 years.
Trump closed the roughly 15-minute address with a call for the country and Congress to “put politics aside and unify together as one nation and one family.”
“Acting with compassion and love we will heal the sick … and emerge from this challenge stronger and more unified than ever before,” he said.
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