Trump restricts European arrivals

Source:Reuters Published: 2020/3/12 19:43:41

Travelers rush to book tickets amid scarcity, price hikes

Italian soldiers with face masks are on duty at Milan Central Railway Station in Milan, Italy, on March 9, 2020. Measures to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus will be extended to the entire country in the next hours, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced late on Monday. (Photo by Daniele Mascolo/Xinhua)

Travelers scrambled to rebook flights and global markets reeled on Thursday after US President Donald Trump imposed sweeping restrictions on travel from Europe, hitting battered airlines and further straining ties with the continent.

Trump ordered travel from Europe to the US restricted for 30 days, responding to mounting pressure to take action against a rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak disrupting nearly all corners of daily life in the US.

"We are marshaling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people," Trump said in a prime-time televised address from the Oval Office on Wednesday.

"This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history."

The travel order, starting at midnight on Friday, does not apply to Britain, or to Americans undergoing "appropriate screenings," Trump said.

After triggering confusion by suggesting trade with Europe would also be suspended, Trump clarified that "trade will in no way be affected."

"The restriction stops people not goods," he said on Twitter moments after his speech.

The surprise restrictions sent financial markets tumbling, with Euro Stoxx 50 futures plunging 8.3 percent to their lowest levels since mid-2016. US stock futures were down more than four percent.

"Already we know the economic impact is significant, and with this additional measure on top it's just going to multiply the impact across businesses," said Khoon Goh, head of Asia Research at ANZ in Singapore. "This is something that markets had not factored in ... it's a huge near-term economic cost."

Trump said his government had been in frequent contact with US allies about the restrictions, but EU officials were not notified about it ahead of time, said one diplomat.

The restrictions will heap more pressure on airlines already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, hitting European carriers the hardest, analysts said.

Washington, DC, resident Michelle Cravez, 30, who is visiting her brother in Prague, quickly rebooked a ticket home.

"It quickly became apparent that demand was pushing costs up and seats were going fast," she said in a Twitter conversation with a Reuters reporter. "Shortly after, we find out that this ruling may not apply to citizens."

In an effort to lessen the economic impact of the outbreak and the restrictions, Trump instructed the Treasury Department to defer tax payments without interest or penalties for certain business and individuals hit by the health crisis.

The president also said he would take emergency action to provide financial relief for workers who are ill, quarantined or caring for others due to the coronavirus. In addition, he said he was directing the Small Business Administration to provide capital and liquidity to firms affected by the coronavirus.



blog comments powered by Disqus