U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday he is suspending all travel from Europe for 30 days, beginning Friday at midnight, as he seeks to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump made the announcement in an Oval Office address to the nation, blaming the European Union for not acting quickly enough to address the coronavirus and saying U.S. clusters were “seeded” by European travellers.
“We made a life-saving move with early action on China,” Trump said. “Now we must take the same action with Europe.”
Trump said the restrictions won’t apply to the United Kingdom and that the U.S. will monitor the situation to determine if travel could be reopened earlier.
Calling his move an “unprecedented response,” Trump said he was marshalling the full power of the government “to protect the American people.”
Among other measures announced, Trump said he was also directing agencies to provide unspecified financial relief “for workers who are ill, quarantined or caring for others due to coronavirus,” and asked the U.S. Congress to take action to extend it.
Trump said the U.S. will defer tax payments for some individual and business filers for three months to lessen the impacts of the virus outbreak. He said the Small Business Administration will also make low-interest loans available to businesses to help them weather the storm.
“This is not a financial crisis,” he said. “This is just a temporary moment of time that we will overcome together as a nation and as a world.”
Trump also reiterated his call on Congress to pass a cut to the federal payroll tax in order to stimulate the economy.
The mounting effort to contain the virus and financial fallout intensified on a grueling day: Communities cancelled public events across the U.S., universities moved to cancel in-person classes and families grappled with disruptions to public schools.
The number of confirmed cases of the infection topped 1,000 in the U.S. and the World Health Organization declared the global crisis is now a pandemic.
As government officials warned that the outbreak in the U.S. will only get worse, the Capitol was set to halt public tours of the building as the shifting developments raised questions, urgency and a new level of unease.
“I can say we will see more cases, and things will get worse than they are right now,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said in testimony on Wednesday before the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
He said the virus is “10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu.”
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