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Washington, March 15, 2020
As the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continued to spread across the world, the United States on Saturday extended its entry restrictions to travellers from the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The US had earlier, on January 31, banned the entry of travellers from China, where the outbreak had begun the previous month. It has since spread to more than a hundred countries, affecting more than 156,000 people and causing more than 5830 deaths worldwide.
On February 29, the ban was extended to travellers from Iran, one of the worst-affected countries after China. Most recently, on March 11, the US banned the entry of people from Europe, which had by then emerged as a hot spot for the disease, except the UK and Ireland.
In his latest proclamation, US President Donald Trump said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had determined that the virus presents a serious public health threat and that the CDC continues to take steps to prevent its spread.
"But CDC, along with State and local health departments, has limited resources, and the public health system could be overwhelmed if sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus occurred in the United States on a large scale. Sustained human-to-human transmission has the potential to cause cascading public health, economic, national security, and societal consequences.
"CDC has determined that the United Kingdom is experiencing widespread, ongoing person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2. As of March 13, 2020, the World Health Organization reported that the United Kingdom had 594 cases of COVID-19, 5 times more cases than there were 7 days prior.
"The Republic of Ireland has an open border with the United Kingdom in that persons can generally move freely between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom — by land to and from Northern Ireland and by ferry or aircraft to and from Wales, England, and Scotland. This general ability to travel freely between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland poses the same challenges that the Schengen Area posed for suspending and limiting entry to the United States by travelers who had been physically present within any of the Schengen Area countries. CDC has also determined that the Republic of Ireland is experiencing ongoing sustained person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2. As of March 13, 2020, the World Health Organization reported that the Republic of Ireland had 70 cases of COVID-19, 5 times more cases than there were 7 days prior.
"The United States Government is unable to effectively evaluate and monitor all of the travelers continuing to arrive from the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. The potential for undetected transmission of the virus by infected individuals seeking to enter the United States from the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland threatens the security of our transportation system and infrastructure and the national security. Given the importance of protecting persons within the United States from the threat of this harmful communicable disease, I have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict and suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of all aliens who were physically present within the United Kingdom, excluding overseas territories outside of Europe, or the Republic of Ireland during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. The free flow of commerce between the United States and the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland remains an economic priority for the United States, and I remain committed to facilitating trade between our nations," the proclamation signed by Trump said.
The ban will not apply, among others, to any lawful permanent resident of the United States; any alien who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident; any alien who is the parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21; any alien who is the sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21; any alien who is the child, foster child, or ward of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications; and any alien traveling at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus.