President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday said the government is considering domestic travel restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic and added United Kingdom and Irelandto the Europe travel restrictions that went into effect late Friday.
They did not offer specifics ondomestic flight restrictions but Trump said earlier this week that they would be considered if “an area gets a little bit out of control” in terms of coronavirus cases.
Pence said at a White House news conference Saturday that a “broad range of measures” are under consideration.
“But no decisions have been made yet,” he said.
Asked if people should be traveling, Trump recommended against it.
“If you don’t have to travel I wouldn’t do it,” he said. “We want this thing to end. We don’t want a lot of people getting infected.”
Extensive domestic flight restrictions would further cripple an already struggling US airline industry and lead to more flight cuts. Southwest Airlines, the nation’s largest domestic carrier, might face a disproportionate hit, though CEO Gary Kelly has already said the airline has seen a “9/11-like” drop in bookings even without serving Asia or Europe.
The talk of domestic travel restrictions comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday issued an unusual advisory on travel within the United States on its website. The headline: “Should I travel within the United States?”
The CDC said it doesn’t generally issue advisories or restrictions for travel within the United States but is doing so because cases of COVID-19 have been reported in many states and some areas are experiencing community spread.
“Crowded travel settings, like airports, may increase your risk of exposure to COVID-19, if there are other travelers with COVID-19. There are several things you should consider when deciding whether it is safe for you to travel.”
Travel guidelines and alerts are usually issued for international destinations. Shortly after the coronavirus outbreak made headlines in January, the CDC issued a level 3 travel health notice, its highest, advising against non-essential travel to China, and has since raised Europe, Iran, Europe and South Korea to those levels due to coronavirus spread.
The CDC now rates the US and other most other countries a level 2 under a broad global coronoavirus travel advisory. A level 2 alert means “practice enhanced precautions.”
New United Kingdom and Ireland restrictions
The United Kingdom and Ireland were excluded from the Europe travel ban announced earlier this week but have been added due to a spike in cases there.
The broadened ban means residents of the U.K. and Ireland will not be allowed to travel to the United States for 30 days beginning late Monday.
U.S. residents won’t be banned from flying to the United States but they will face airport screenings upon their return and will be asked to self quarantine for 14 days.
Officials said U.S. citizens in the U.K. or Ireland do not need to rush home ahead of the deadline because the ban does not apply to them.
“They will be allowed into the U.S.,” Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security said.
In response to the broadened ban and the resulting falloff in travel demand, airlines are likely to sharply cut flights between the U.S. and London and Ireland. Delta and American Airlines, for example, suspended all flights between the United States and the 26 European countries covered by the initial ban.
Europe travel restrictions:Here’s what you need to know