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White House and Trump clarify European travel ban he announced

Trump announces travel ban from most of Europe
Trump announces travel restrictions in response to coronavirus 09:59

President Trump's announcement of a 30-day travel ban from Europe Wednesday night included several provisions he and the White House clarified in the hours after his brief Oval Office address. For instance, the president indicated during his remarks that trade would also be subject to the suspension. "These prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval," he said. But he appears to have misspoken.

After his speech, he clarified by tweet that it's "very important for all countries & businesses to know that trade will in no way be affected by the 30-day restriction on travel from Europe. The restriction stops people not goods."

Mr. Trump's timing also required a correction. He said that "the new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight." Later, the White House explained that Mr. Trump actually meant the rules would be implemented a day later, at midnight Saturday.

As for those the ban applies to, the president told Americans, "We will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days." The White House later tweeted that the travel restriction applies only to most foreign nationals who've been in the 26-nation Schengen area of Europe in the two weeks before their scheduled arrival in the United States. U.S. citizens traveling in Europe will be exempt, but American travelers will have to undergo screenings before they come back to the U.S. 

American citizens traveling in the affected parts of Europe will be funneled to the 11 airports that offer health screenings and that are able to check for signs of a fever. However, there's some research showing those checks can miss about two-thirds of people with coronavirus.

The suspension "applies to foreign nationals who have been in 26 European countries with open borders agreements, in the last 14 days," the White House tweeted. "Those exempt from these restrictions, such as U.S. citizens, will be directed to limited airports where screening can take place."

Major airlines, which weren't notified in advance of the president's announcement, have started reacting to it. Delta has waived change fees for customers traveling to, from or through Europe and the United Kingdom through May 31. This waiver applies to all tickets issued on or before March 11.

American Airlines said in a statement, "We are in contact with the federal government to understand and comply with this directive. The health and safety of our customers and team members remains our highest priority."

Kris Van Kleave, Steven Portnoy, Fin Gomez and Gaby Ake contributed to this story

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