European leaders react with outrage and stock markets plunge after Trump travel ban


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US President Donald Trump announced Wednesday evening that he would ban foreign travelers from Europe for the next 30 days amid the growing coronavirus outbreak.

The restrictions apply only to foreign nationals, and not U.S. citizens, green card holders or the families of U.S. citizens. The White House further specified that the ban applied to foreign nationals who have visited 26 countries in Europe.

Ireland and the U.K. are exempt, although it is not clear why because the virus is also present in Britain. In fact, Bloomberg News reports that U.K. authorities have abandoned efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus there and will focus on delaying the worst of the outbreak, as officials said as many as 10,000 Britons may be infected.

The travel ban does not apply to European trade or goods, though Trump suggested that that was the case during his prime-time address. The White House scrambled to fix his misstatement, clarifying that the restriction applied only to people.

“The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hot spots,” Trump said Wednesday night, speaking from the Oval Office. “As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe.”

No mention was made of the Trump administration’s abject failure in providing sufficient coronavirus testing nor did Trump mention social distancing in local communities –  the top priority of public health professionals.

In the most scripted of presidential settings, a prime time address to the nation, President Trump decided to ad-lib — and his errors triggered a market meltdown, panicked travelers overseas and crystallized just how dangerously he has fumbled his management of the coronavirus.