The White House is growing its movement restriction to travelers from the United Kingdom and Ireland trying to stem the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S., further development of restrictions on air travel that haven’t been seen since Sept. 11, 2001.
The administration had recently restricted foreign nationals from flying into the United States from the 26 nations in the Schengen Area free development zone, however not the U.K. what’s more, Ireland, in spite of the presence of the coronavirus in those countries.
The ban on travel from other parts of Europe began at midnight on Saturday, White House officials said at a press conference on Saturday. The ban on the two new countries will be implemented at midnight Monday night, Eastern Daylight Time.
The move is sure to push airlines further into crisis after they have been struggling financially for weeks amid a steep slump in passenger demand. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said economic aid could soon be coming for airlines and cruise lines after Congress passed two pieces of coronavirus relief legislation that didn’t include provisions for those industries.
“We have a lot more we need to do with Congress, and the speaker and I have acknowledged that we will be working starting immediately,” Mnuchin said. “The airline’s industry in particular, no different than after 9/11, has very unique circumstances — the cruise industry, the hotel industry. I would say we’ve got a lot more work to do.”
However, the White House and airlines have been in discussions about the impact the coronavirus is having on their businesses, and what aid might be needed. Nothing has been finalized or made public, but those discussions, for now, appear to be centered around letting airlines keep some of the excise taxes passengers pay as part of the price of a ticket.