In light of the constantly developing coronavirus situation, the Trump Administration has just added some sweeping measures that impact travelers, which will take effect as of 5PM ET on Sunday, February 2, 2020.
Presumably these measures will be temporary, though there’s no published end date yet for this.
What all is changing?
Foreign nationals who have visited China can’t enter the US
To start, foreign nationals who visited China in the last 14 days will no longer be able to enter the United States. The exception is immediate family members of US citizens and permanent residents.
According to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, this is being done to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Furthermore, the US is declaring a public health emergency.
US will quarantine US citizens returning home
The US is also adding a major quarantine restriction:
- Any US citizen who has traveled to China will have to undergo a health screening upon entering in the US, and will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days
- Any US citizen who has traveled to the Hubei province will have to undergo a mandatory quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the US; this is because 14 days is the longest estimate of how long it takes for symptoms of the virus to appear
Incoming China flights restricted to seven airports
We’ll see if there are any nonstop flights between mainland China and the US left in the coming days, but the US has now restricted incoming flights from China to seven US airports:
- Atlanta (ATL)
- Chicago (ORD)
- Honolulu (HNL)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- New York (JFK)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- Seattle (SEA)
World Health Organization warns against travel bans
The World Health Organization, which also declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency, has recommended against creating any sort of travel restrictions.
That’s because these travel bans can make responding to an outbreak more challenging, and are not effective at stemming the spread of a virus. As a WHO spokesperson explained:
“Although travel restrictions may intuitively seem like the right thing to do, this is not something that WHO usually recommends. This is because of the social disruption they cause and the intensive use of resources required.”
This is obviously still a rapidly developing situation, and it will be interesting to see how this evolves. The concept of a mandatory quarantine is the first time we’ve seen this in more than 50 years, so that’s pretty significant. I do wonder how the logistics of the quarantine will work — are they renting out hotels near airports, or…?