Last night, President Trump announced that the United States would be enforcing a travel ban on all travel from Europe for 30 days. While we are still lacking in some details, we do know some things about the ban and how it will apply to different people. Here’s what we know so far.
What is the Europe travel ban?
The travel ban covers foreign nationals who have been in any of the following nations in the Schengen zone 14 days prior to their arrival in the US.
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
The UK and Ireland are exempted from the travel ban.
So presumably, if you were to travel from Portugal to the UK only a couple of days before your arrival in the US, you would still be subject to the ban since you were in one of the banned countries two weeks prior to your arrival.
The other important thing to note here is that the ban only applies to foreign nationals.
When does the travel ban begin?
The travel ban will begin Friday at 11:59 p.m. U.S. eastern time. If a flight is currently in the air when the ban begins, that flight will be allowed to land in the US.
Are there exemptions?
Yes, the following people are exempted from the restriction: U.S. citizens and permanent residents and their families, health professionals that are part of international efforts to combat the spread of the virus, diplomats and air or sea crew.
Although, it was initially announced that cargo would be impacted it turns out that trade will continue.
How does this affect US citizens?
US passengers who have been traveling in those banned parts of Europe will have to come back in the US through select airports where enhanced screening procedures have been established.
What exactly are these enhanced screening procedures?
I don’t think we know for sure at this point but I would imagine they would be standard screening procedures to make sure that you are not running a fever or at risk of transmitting the disease.
Will airlines offer waivers on change fees?
Most likely you will be able to change your flight for free for major US airlines. For example, Delta has already stated it will waive ticket change fees for passengers traveling to, from or through Europe and the U.K. through May 31 if they purchased their tickets before March 11. I would expect other US airlines to follow.
If you need a refresher on flight delay compensation be sure to check out this article.
Why a ban on Europe?
It sounds like the ban will be an ongoing situation. It’s possible that the travel restrictions could be lifted if things get better after a few weeks and that would be a decision made by the President.
However, if I had a trip to Europe planned in the next 30 days or even the next 60 days, I would just reschedule the trip for later in the summer.
The risk of a healthy 20 to 40-year-old catching the disease and dying is very low but you never know who you could transmit the disease to. Also, arriving in a country where there is a travel ban back to your home country is just asking for something to go wrong.
You might be allowed back in based on your citizenship status but you never know what could come up in a situation like that. All it could take is you having a bad cough when you arrive and all of a sudden you find yourself in a quarantine zone. Or maybe new travel restrictions are imposed by the time you are coming back.
And then you also have to factor in limited flight schedules since there are already so many cancellations happening. You could get stranded.
So my advice is to lay low for a little bit, practice social distancing, and most of all don’t freak out. While this disease is definitely going to be a problem it’s not so lethal that you should have high anxieties about it killing you. And I truly believe with all of the major events and sporting events being canceled, the US is going to be able to contain the spread of this disease to a large degree.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.