Additional travel restrictions have been announced to prevent spread of the coronavirus throughout the United States. Headlines both within the U.S. and internationally have been reporting new cases and deaths related to the disease in recent days.
New countries added to restriction lists
More steps were taken to reduce the amount of new domestic coronavirus cases caused by contact with infected visitors from certain countries. Travelers from a few specific countries will be most affected by new restrictions on flights from Iran, as well as high risk countries like Italy and South Korea. People entering the U.S. from these areas will also be subjected to more intensive screening procedures.
One of the most important restrictions will be imposed on anyone who has visited Iran within the previous 14 days. The country has experienced almost 1000 cases of the virus and it has caused 54 deaths as of the beginning of March. Vice President Mike Pence also announced that Italy and South Korea would now receive level 4 travel advisories. This means that Americans are told to avoid going to those places. A spokesperson who works with Pence also stated that these countries of concern would be putting in procedures to make exit screenings for those leaving for travel. Other countries in Europe could possibly be added for these screenings as well in the coming days. Mandatory screening for anyone returning from China within the last 14 days have already been in place.
The secretary for Health and Human services said that their main priority is to minimize travel in or out of certain countries which have been most affected. Over time, this should decrease the rate at which the virus is spreading.
When speaking about the spread of the coronavirus on Saturday, Trump acknowledged that more cases will be discovered in the coming days, but most Americans are still going to remain safe. He also emphasized that the risk of death from the disease is low.
Airlines experiencing flight suspensions
A few airlines have entirely suspended their operations to certain countries temporarily to prevent new cases of the coronavirus. Demand for international flights has decreased. American Airlines will not have any flights going to or returning from Italy through New York and Miami. They would also be eliminating fees to change flights until March 16th. Delta airlines cancelled all flights originating or ending in Milan.
The U.S. government has already suspended all flights for Americans that arrive or depart from Shanghai or Beijing until April 30th. United Airlines has added these countries to their suspensions, along with Chengdu and Hong Kong. Some airlines also cancelled or suspended flights to Tokyo, Osaka, and Seoul. All travel companies were offering some kind of way to receive refunds or change destinations at no charge.
Travel restrictions from the president
The Trump administration had initially put travel restrictions on certain countries due to concerns about terrorism. Despite some controversy, most bans and restrictions on travel have been upheld by the courts. The media has also criticized Trump’s response to the coronavirus situation by saying it is inadequate and that he has not honestly communicated the true gravity of the outbreak to the American public. Trump had announced the previous week that Vice President Pence would be overseeing efforts to control the outbreak domestically.