President Donald Trump said he will suspend all travel from Europe to the US for the next 30 days, the most far-reaching measure yet in the administration’s efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus.
The restrictions, which will not apply to the UK, will go into effect Friday at midnight, he said Wednesday in an Oval Office address.
The president scheduled the remarks to lay out his plan for dealing with the rapid spread of a disease he labelled a “foreign virus” that has led to more than 1,100 infections in the US and ravaged markets. The S&P 500 closed Wednesday 19% lower than its February high, with every industry down at least 3.9% on the day.
The World Health Organization earlier Wednesday declared the outbreak is now a pandemic and urged governments to step up containment efforts as the number of worldwide cases topped 123,000 and deaths exceeded 4,500.
Trump claimed that his early action to restrict travel from China and other affected countries slowed the spread of the virus in the U.S. He said the administration is “monitoring the situation in China and South Korea,” and that “a possible early opening” could happen if the situation improves.
The president asked Congress to take action to deliver paid sick leave to hourly workers who risk their livelihoods if they stay home. He also recommended that nursing homes curtail non-medically necessary visits.
Trump said he is deferring tax payments for certain individuals and businesses affected by the virus. He said the postponement would provide $200 billion in additional liquidity.