US travel ban: what it means, if the UK is affected and full list of Schengen Area countries

Donald Trump has issued an executive order banning entry into the United States from several European countries, although the UK remains exempt.

Donald Trump took to the Oval Office to announce the new restrictions. Picture: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images
Donald Trump took to the Oval Office to announce the new restrictions. Picture: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

The move has been announced in an attempt to halt the spread of the coronavirus in the US.

According to the European Centre for Disease control, the US currently has 1025 confirmed cases of the virus, 972 of which arose in the last 15 days.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

In only the second Oval Office address Trump has given during his presidency, he also urged all Americans who were feeling ill to stay at home.

Many flights to and from Italy have already been cancelled due to the coronavirus. Picture: Miguel Medina/Getty Images

Here’s everything you need to know about the travel ban.

Read More

Read More
Easy ways to boost your immune system and fight off coronavirus

Why has the US issued a travel ban?

In his presidential address, Trump laid out several new measures the government would be taking in an attempt to combat the coronavirus, including financial assistance for small businesses affected by the outbreak and for sick workers.

The most drastic new regulation bans all travel to the US from 26 countries in Europe. Trump blamed the EU for the outbreak of the virus there, claiming they had more cases than the US because they had “failed to take the same precautions”.

Italy has been hit harder than any nation outside of Asia, with more than 12,000 confirmed cases resulting in more than 800 deaths.

In an attempt to limit further spread of the virus, the Italian government has imposed a nation-wide lockdown. As a result, all flights between the US and Italy have already been cancelled.

France, Germany and Spain have also reported more than 1,000 cases each.

Trump confirmed that American citizens who were currently abroad in Europe would be permitted to return home but only by flying to certain airports which have screening facilities. A notice is to be issued within the next 48 hours to clarify these plans.

Trump later took to Twitter to state that trade between Europe and the US would not be affected by the travel ban, tweeting “The restriction stops people not goods.”

In a White House meeting on Monday 9 March, the President also offered assurances that the government would work with the airline industry to help endure the major losses they will incur as a result of the coronavirus.

Why is the UK exempt from the travel ban?

Britain and the Republic of Ireland are not members of the Schengen Area and so they have been made exempt to the new travel ban.

It appears that Britons travelling to the US from within the Schengen Area countries, or those who have spent the previous 14 days in those countries, will also be included in the ban - however it’s not been made clear yet how this will work.

Which Schengen Area countries does the ban affect?

The UK is exempt from the travel ban, which will apply to the 26 countries in the Schengen Area of Europe.

The Schengen Area refers to the group of European countries that have all forms of border control, including passports, allowing people to move freely between them.

The area includes 22 EU members:

Austria

Belgium

Czech Republic

Denmark

Estonia

Finland

France

Germany

Greece

Hungary

Italy

Latvia

Lithuania

Luxembourg

Malta

Netherlands

Poland

Portugal

Slovakia

Slovenia

Spain

Sweden

It also includes four non-member countries who signed an agreement to participate in the open borders policy – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

How will the ban affect flights that connect via the UK?

The UK is exempt from the travel ban meaning that any flight from Britain to the US should be unaffected. The ban does not apply to flights from the US to Europe.

However, Heathrow is one of the busiest airports in the world and connects various European nations to the States - so what happens to flights that have a connection through the UK?

The ban applies to any foreign national who has been in any of the Schengen Area countries within the 14 days prior to their planned arrival in the US. This means that anyone from a Schengen Area nation can travel via the UK, if they have spent the 14 days prior to flying in the UK.

Similarly, this means that UK citizens who have been in the Schengen Area countries in the 14 days prior to arrival in the US will be unable to travel there, even if they are flying directly from the UK.

However, until practical guidelines have been issued, it is unclear exactly how the ban will be enforced.

How long will the ban be in place?

The travel ban will begin on Friday 20 March and is scheduled to last for 30 days at which point it will be reviewed.

Coronavirus: the facts

What is coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.

What caused coronavirus?

The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.

How is it spread?

As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But.similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.

What are the symptoms?

The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.

What precautions can be taken?

Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

Should I avoid public places?

Most people who feel well can continue to go to work, school and public places and should only stay at home and self isolate if advised by a medical professional or the coronavirus service.

What should I do if I feel unwell?

Don’t go to your GP but instead call NHS 111 or look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.

When to call NHS 111

NHS 111 should be used if you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms, have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.

Sources: World Health Organisation and NHS