Friday, 13 March 2020

EU condemns Trump travel ban on 26 European countries

US President Trump's travel ban on 26 European countries has sparked the biggest one-day fall in shares around the world since the mid-1980s and caused anger and dismay among European leaders. 

The travel ban affects only countries that are members of the Schengen border-free travel area, which includes Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia Austria, Greece, Malta, Netherlands, Lithuania, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Luxemburg and Denmark.  It doesn't apply to the UK or Ireland - at least for the time being.

The decision came as a surprise to both US airlines and European leaders who were not consulted prior to Trump's television address.  Trump has said he did not inform his EU counterparts because "it takes time. -  We had to move quickly," Mr Trump said, adding that the EU did not consult the US when raising taxes on American goods - which they did and were in response to Trump introducing tariffs. 

The EU said "The European Union disapproves of the fact that the US decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation," 

Council President Charles Michel and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen issued a joint statement which said the coronavirus pandemic is a "global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires co-operation rather than unilateral action". 

However, many in Europe are saying they could just travel to the UK, and take a flight from there on to the US.  According to various commentators, the Home Office doesn't track movements of EU citizens, so they could come to the UK and then go on to America undetected by the US authorities,  thus circumventing the restrictions.

Many others feel the ban is pointless anyway, as coronavirus already has a foothold in the US, with large clusters already developing, so much so that New York has declared a state of emergency.  The state has banned gatherings of more than 250 people and Broadway theatres will close from tomorrow until 12th April.  Other US states are considering similar bans on mass meetings and Disneyland in California will close from Saturday.

The US testing system for the coronavirus is currently failing, according to the top health official on infectious diseases, Dr Anthony Fauci. “The system is not really geared to what we need right now… that is a failing, let’s admit it,” he said. “The idea of anybody getting it easily the way people in other countries are doing it, we’re not set up for that. Do I think we should be. Yes. But we’re not.”

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