The nations of the world are responding to the coronavirus outbreak in various ways as they try to get a handle on it. With cases rising very quickly in Italy (simultaneously dropping in China) and more popping up around Europe, new measures are being put in place for many countries. This latest measure is the US issuing a travel ban for travelers from Europe. Here is what we know so far.
The US Travel Ban on Travelers from Europe
“ Today President Donald J. Trump signed a Presidential Proclamation, which suspends the entry of most foreign nationals who have been in certain European countries at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the United States. These countries, known as the Schengen Area, include: 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. This does not apply to legal permanent residents, (generally) immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and other individuals who are identified in the proclamation.”
What Does the US Travel Ban on European Travel to the US Mean?
To start with, this 30 day ban begins March 13 at midnight. It will not allow the people traveling from the above countries to enter the US for a period of 30 days. Here are some key points about this travel ban/suspension:
- It does not apply to US citizens, permanent residents and many others with similar status
- These travelers will need to enter the US through approved airports that will have screening processes for everyone from Europe
- It does not apply to travel from the UK
- It does not apply to travel from Turkey (they aren’t part of the Schengen Area but I wanted to mention this for follow up further down)
At this point, there are still some unknown factors but I will be updating this post regularly as we get information. For now, if you are in one of the above countries and do not fit the group of travelers who would be allowed in, the best thing you can do if you need to get to the US is to leave today, Thursday, March 12.
Do not assume that you can simply take a flight or other means of transportation to a country not on the list and fly to the US. It is very likely that there will be systems in place to identify your origination or you will need to make a declaration upon landing in the US. Countries are already putting penalties on those who lie about that (Singapore will put you in jail for 6 months and Saudi Arabia will fine you $133,000).
IF you are in the European countries named above and are not one of the permitted travelers under the proclamation, it is best to not even plan for travel to the US until after the 30 day ban ends.
What Happens if You Have Flights Booked to the US in the Next 30 Days?
With only certain travelers allowed into the US for the next 30 days from Europe, there will likely be many flights from European carriers that will be cancelled in the coming days. Unless you were scheduled to travel in the next 5 days, I would simply wait for a few days until the flight schedules get updated.
If your flight is not one of the ones cancelled, you will be able to change the flight for travel on a later date and just pay whatever difference in fare that exists at the time.
Here are the links to the various airlines regarding waivers:
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- United Airlines
- Air France
- British Airways
What If You are In Europe But Need to Travel to the US (and are allowed to)?
I am actually in this group as I am currently in Europe and my family and I are scheduled to fly to the US in the coming weeks. At this point, this will not affect our travel plans though we will have to plan for the extra health screening at some point along the way.
But, if you have not yet booked travel yet, and you need to, you will want to do that very soon. Pretty much every airline has already issued waivers if you book travel now and want to change it later (as in you will not pay any change fee) so you can always book now and change later.
The airlines that will likely book up very fast are going to be British Airways and Turkish Airlines. Both of these airlines operate outside of the banned countries and are the nearest for travelers in Europe seeking to go to the US. This means that flights will book up quickly with travelers that want to get home to the US.
Turkish Airlines typically has excellent one-way fares between the US and Europe. So, if you just need to get home, best to book with Turkish on a one-way fare. They can typically be found, even close-in, for under $500 from many places in Europe.
British Airways is much higher for one-ways so you will want to make it a roundtrip ticket. Fortunately, if you are in Europe, there are some excellent fares to London if you want to fly there on one ticket and then on another to the US.
What Will the Health Screening Involve?
At this point, there is no information about which airports will be approved for entry from Europe and what the screening will be like. Will it be done at the point of departure to the US or once in the US?
At the very least, it will involve checking your temperature and possibly some questions regarding where you had stayed. I will be updating this section with more information as I get it.
The US is closed to travel from Europe for all but those that are US citizens, permanent residents, and select other classifications of travelers. This ban is in place from Friday, March 13 for 30 days.
This post will be constantly updated as information comes in. Like I said, I am in that same group that is currently in Europe and I have reservations to the US so this is very personal for me to know more as well.