US President Donald Trump avoided declaring a national emergency over the coronavirus outbreak but is shutting down all travel from Europe – with the exception of the UK and Ireland – and going back on his own advice by urging sick people to “stay home”.
In only his second presidential address from the Oval Office in three years, Mr Trump called for national unity as he laid out a number of steps he is taking or asking Congress to take to defeat Covid-19.
“The EU failed to take the same precautions,”
The travel ban is just one part of a strategy laid out by the president to halt the spread of the virus, and prevent a complete economic crash. The executive branch and executive office of the president have vast emergency and national security powers, which he is tapping into as he essentially tries to put a blanket on a growing fire.
He backtracked on one of his most controversial statements since the outbreak became serious a few weeks ago, when he several times said ill workers should clock in despite his own public health officials urging them to stay at home.
Mr Trump’s strategy is now to contain the spread of the virus, as he essentially described a plan to keep people spread out so infected individuals do not pass it on; he pleaded with Americans to avoid large crowds and suggested large events be cancelled.
“If we are vigilant and we can reduce the chance of infection [and] impede the transmission of the virus,” Mr Trump said. “The virus will not have a chance against us.”
A White House release made clear that American citizens would still be able to return home once the European travel ban sets in, albeit to a “limited” number of airports with screening facilities.
READ: Trump coronavirus travel ban: Everything we know so far on The Independent