DONALD Trump has banned all travel from mainland Europe to the US in a bid to slow down the coronavirus pandemic.
The ban applies to Spain but will not include the UK when it comes into effect at midnight on Friday.
The ban applies to 28 countries and will be in place for a minimum of 30 days – although it could be lifted earlier if drastic improvements are seen.
The US president made the announcement during a televised address to the nation in which he blamed the EU for not acting quickly enough in banning travel from China.
“The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hot spots,” Trump said.
“As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travellers from Europe.
He added: “We made a lifesaving move with early action on China. Now we must take the same action with Europe.”
A Homeland Security spokesman said: “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.”
Trump’s travel ban reportedly ‘blindsided’ European diplomats who had no idea it was coming.
His announcement also wrongly stated there would be a ban on goods and cargo before the White House was later forced to clarify that only people would be affected.
It comes as the COVID-19 has reached the upper echelons of Hollywood.
Actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson, also an actor, have both tested positive for coronavirus while filming in Australia.
Oscar winner Hanks, 63, revealed the news on his Instagram page.
“We felt a bit tired, like we had colds and some body aches,” the Forrest Gump star wrote.
“Rita had some chills that came and went. Slight fevers too. To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the coronavirus, and were found to be positive.
“Well, now. What to do next? The medical officials have protocols that must be followed. We Hanks’ will be tested, observed, and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires. Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no?”
Reports indicate the cast and crew have been ordered to stay away from set after a production worker also tested positive.