U.S. President Donald Trump announced Wednesday a series of drastic measures to tackle the novel coronavirus pandemic, having major impact on Israeli nationals traveling to the United States.
In a televised address to the nation, Trump said that all commercial flights from Europe to the United States would be suspended for 30 days. The new travel ban will come into effect on Friday.
The surprising new policy does not apply to Britain or to Americans undergoing “appropriate screenings”, Trump said. “The restriction stops people not goods,” he tweeted after his speech.
Although some airlines operate direct flights from Israel to America, the vast majority of Israelis frequently travel to the United States with airlines like Air France, Alitalia and Spain’s Iberia that have stopovers in Europe. Thus, Trump's new order makes it impossible for most Israelis to enter the United States.
Trump’s new policy has been viewed as an extreme measure in the United States, sparking the ire of the European Union.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel issued a joint statement, saying that the coronavirus is “a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action.”
The statement added that “The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to improve a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation."
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Several days ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced more far-reaching travel restrictions to counter the pandemic that is rattling the world. The restrictions do not apply to the United Kingdom and Ireland.
According to the new stringent instructions, all Israeli citizens returning to Israel from anywhere abroad must enter a 14-day home quarantine immediately upon their return. The order went into effect on Monday at 8 P.M.
In addition, foreign nationals arriving at an international border crossing are permitted entry to Israel only after demonstrating their ability to enter home quarantine in the country.
The new restrictions have significantly reduced all air travel to and from Israel, while European carriers Israelis usually fly with have canceled the majority of their flights due to lack of demand.