Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: US extends travel restrictions to UK and Ireland March 14 in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19. Further travel restrictions likely.

This alert affects United States

This alert began 14 Mar 2020 17:21 GMT and is scheduled to expire 24 Mar 2020 20:00 GMT.

  • Incident: Travel restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Start Time/Date: 0001 March 13
  • Impact: Entry and restrictions, health screenings, increased immigration wait times

The US announced March 14 that it would expand its travel restrictions placed on the Schengen Area to include the UK and Ireland. The new measures, which will take effect midnight March 16, are intended to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and come a day after US President Donald J. Trump declared a national emergency in the country.

The US previously imposed a ban on foreign passengers who have traveled within the Schengen Area within 14 days of arrival from entering the country. The measure began at 0001 March 13 and will remain in effect through at least April 12. The restriction does not affect US citizens, their immediate relatives (in most cases), or legal permanent residents. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a press release March 11, clarifying that there is not a blanket flight ban on travel between the US and Europe, following earlier statements from US President Donald Trump. DHS also indicated that it would announce further measures for US citizens and permanent residents in the coming days that will designate specific airports for arriving flights from affected European countries.

The Schengen Area includes 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. Airlines are likely to adjust their flight schedules in the coming days; reduced demand is likely to exacerbate flight disruptions between the US and destinations in the affected countries.

President Trump and other officials have stated that the travel restrictions for Schengen countries could be adjusted before the scheduled end date. However, further restrictions remain possible in the coming days.

Background and Analysis
The travel restrictions come amid the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, which originated in China's Wuhan City in Hubei Province. The purpose of the travel restrictions is to prevent the spread of the disease. The WHO has declared the disease a pandemic. In response to the ongoing outbreak, US State Department issued a Level 3 - Reconsider Travel - global health advisory March 11, for travel abroad. The US government has also warned that many areas of the world are taking action that may limit traveler mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions, including areas where cases have not been reported.

Individuals impacted by the restrictions should reconfirm their flights. Follow all official immigration and health screening instructions. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.