aU.S. President Donald Trump addresses the nation on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic from the Oval Office at the White House on Wednesday, March 11, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)

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

It’s unclear how Canada will react to the news

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.”

READ MORE: Trump suspends travel from Europe to U.S. for 30 days

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.

— With files from Mike Blanchfield in Ottawa

James McCarten, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusDonald Trump

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

Just Posted

Update: Coquihalla re-opens, after incident requiring a medevac

DriveBC warns of continued delays and congestion

COVID-19 case confirmed at restaurant in Cache Creek: Interior Health

Customers who visited the site from March 25 to 27 are asked to self-isolate

Shots fired in Abbotsford, but no victims or suspects found

Incident occurs Tuesday afternoon at Whatcom and Old Yale roads

Family medicine still available just different in the age of COVID-19

Local health officials send reminder that doctors are still providing care, by phone or video chat

Mayor reacts to suggestion to ship those in quarantine from the DTES to Chilliwack

‘People do best when they stay where they have supports already in place,’ stated Chilliwack mayor

B.C. couple celebrates 61st anniversary through seniors’ home window

Frank and Rena Phillips marked occasion at Nanaimo Seniors Village this week while social distancing

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

COVID-19: Fraser Valley crafters are busy sewing cotton masks for health-care workers and others

One Chilliwack woman has made 125 masks so far, and is still going strong

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

VIDEO: Dog missing in Lower Mainland since winter sees his family again for the first time

Aldergrove helped find Buster, says dad, who has now witnessed ‘the power of social media’

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Most Read