On March 11, 2020, President Trump announced via a nationally televised address that effective from 11:59 p.m. EDT, March 13, 2020, he would suspend or limit travel into the US from foreign nationals who have recently been in certain European countries in an effort to curtail the person-to-person transmission of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the US.

Per Presidential Proclamation, entitled, Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus, the additional travel ban on European countries significantly expands the scope of the two previous travel bans that were issued on January 31 (banning travel from mainland China) and on February 29 (banning travel from Iran).

Per the new ban, “foreign nationals” will include immigrants and nonimmigrants who were physically present within the European Schengen Area – which does not include the UK and Ireland – during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the US. There are certain exemptions offered in the travel ban.

The Schengen Area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

For more details on the EU and Schengen Area travel ban, please see this post by our firm’s Employment Law Worldview blog.

With respect to questions on US-EU trade, the President specifically stated in the proclamation, “The free flow of commerce between the United States and the Schengen Area countries remains an economic priority for the United States, and I remain committed to facilitating trade between our nations.” The President further clarified this point via a March 11 tweet, “Hoping to get the payroll tax cut approved by both Republicans and Democrats, and please remember, very important for all countries & businesses to know that trade will in no way be affected by the 30-day restriction on travel from Europe. The restriction stops people not goods.

UK and Ireland

On Saturday, March 14, Vice President Pence announced during a press briefing that the travel ban will be extended to include the UK and Ireland, effective at midnight EDT on Monday, March 16 (04:00 GMT Tuesday). The travel restrictions do not apply to cargo from the UK and Ireland.

EU Response

Shortly following Trump’s proclamation, EU leaders publicly condemned his unilateral decision to impose the travel ban. And on March 16, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Twitter a temporary restrictions that could last 30 days or more on non-essential in-bound travel to the 26 EU countries that fall within the Schengen Area due to the pandemic.

The proposal would exclude frontier workers who legally commute from neighboring EU countries, long-term residents in the EU, family members of EU nationals and diplomats, and “essential staff”, such as doctors, nurses, care workers, researchers and experts who help contain and mitigate the coronavirus. Von der Leyen also confirmed that the travel ban would exclude the transport of goods. Further, she proposed to institute “green-lanes, fast lanes” to give priority to essential goods, such as medical, perishable and emergency services goods.

We continue to monitor these developments closely. Please contact us at InternationalTradeCompliance@squirepb.com with any questions.