U.S. President Donald Trump announced travel restrictions from Europe, in a March 12, 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Trump’s ban on travel from Europe poses questions for Canada-U.S. border

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump is slamming America’s door on most foreign nationals who were recently in Europe — a drastic step in response to an accelerating global pandemic that, should it proceed, could pose a serious threat to commerce and travel between Canada and its largest trading partner.

Trump, in a rare televised Oval Office address, sounded nervous and ill at ease Wednesday as he sought to assure Americans that his White House was taking decisive steps to slow the march of the novel coronavirus.

“To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days,” Trump declared into the camera, his fingers latticed before him on the Resolute Desk.

“There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings, and these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval. Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing. These restrictions will also not apply to the United Kingdom.”

The president later tweeted, “The restriction stops people, not goods.”

It wasn’t immediately clear how much advance notice the Prime Minister’s Office received of the president’s plans, or precisely what steps Canada would be taking to deal with the potential fallout.

“We won’t comment on other countries’ approaches,” said PMO spokesman Cameron Ahmad. “We will continue to base our decisions in Canada on science and the best advice from our Public Health Agency.”

A news release from the White House clarified the president’s proclamation, which was made under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act.

It only applies to the movement of human beings, not goods or cargo, and to foreign nationals who in the last two weeks visited one of 26 countries in Europe that allow free and open travel between their borders, a bloc known as the Schengen Area. American citizens and permanent residents are exempt, and will be directed to “a limited number” of airports where they can be screened, the release said.

The ban is scheduled to take effect at midnight Friday night.

Trump, whose efforts to impose travel bans have been met with court challenges in the past, imposed a similar ban in January on recent foreign visitors to China — a restriction he has frequently insisted has helped to keep the outbreak at bay in the United States. A similar ban on foreign nationals who had travelled to Iran came the following month.

The president has been under fire in recent weeks for what critics have called a tepid and disorganized response to the crisis from a White House that didn’t appear to be taking the threat seriously.

But with the outbreak escalating, stock markets in freefall and the risk to the U.S. economy growing by the day, Trump — gearing up for a re-election effort later this year — appears to be taking notice.

In addition to the travel ban, he also announced a $50-billion, low-interest plan to improve liquidity in capital markets for small businesses, and to defer tax bills for people and businesses affected by the outbreak. And he’s pushing Congress to green-light his proposal to cut payroll taxes to help keep the country’s economic gears turning.

After China, South Korea and Iran, Europe is the new source of alarm surrounding what the World Health Organization now considers a pandemic — and Italy, where Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has effectively locked down his country and shuttered restaurants, retailers, cafes and bars, is the epicentre.

Public gatherings in Italy are currently prohibited and the country’s 60 million residents have been asked to limit their travel to work or emergencies to help curb the spread of a virus that has sickened more than 12,000 people and killed 827.

CoronavirusDonald Trump

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Parliament may need to be recalled again to approve wage subsidy program

OTTAWA — Canadians are supposed to get more details today of the… Continue reading

A message from the Advocate publisher

In good times and bad, The Red Deer Advocate has been here… Continue reading

US death toll eclipses China’s as reinforcements head to NYC

NEW YORK — The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus climbed past… Continue reading

Long john producer Stanfield’s reacts to COVID-19 with ‘pivot’ to medical gowns

HALIFAX — A historic Canadian undergarment factory famed for long johns and… Continue reading

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as… Continue reading

WATCH: Firefighters, RCMP help Red Deer boy celebrate 3rd birthday

Firefighters and RCMP officers helped a Red Deer boy celebrate his third… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services provides COVID-19 prevention tips

Alberta Health Services has a number of recommendations for people amid the… Continue reading

Alberta government website has latest COVID-19 statistics

Red Deer Advocate readers can stay up to date on the COVID-19… Continue reading

Alberta’s energy war room to spend only on ‘subsistence operations’ due to COVID-19

Alberta’s energy war room to spend only on ‘subsistence operations’ due to COVID-19

A message from Waskasoo Medical Clinic

A Message From Waskasoo Medical Clinic Waskasoo Medical Clinic (including our walk-in… Continue reading

Father of Humboldt Bronco disappointed Saskatchewan has relaxed trucking rules

Father of Humboldt Bronco disappointed Saskatchewan has relaxed trucking rules

Alberta education minister resists Opposition calls to rescind mass layoffs

Alberta education minister resists Opposition calls to rescind mass layoffs

Alberta Medical Association calls health-care changes irresponsible during pandemic

Alberta Medical Association calls health-care changes irresponsible during pandemic

Crosby, McDavid favourites again in NHLPA annual poll

Crosby, McDavid favourites again in NHLPA annual poll

Most Read