Last night, President Trump announced in a televised national address that he was banning all travel from Europe to try to stem the escalating spread of the coronavirus and the news has investors rattled. The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened down nearly 1,700 points this morning, while the S&P 500 plunged 7%. Trading was temporarily halted — for the second time this week.
Trump’s travel ban goes into effect tomorrow, March 13, at midnight and will extend for 30 days. It applies to 26 countries, including France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria and the Netherlands, that are part of a visa-free travel zone known as the Schengen Area. The U.K. is not part of the zone.
Amid growing criticism of Trump’s perceived lax response to the crisis, Trump’s announcement initially created much confusion. In his speech, he described the ban as affecting Europe but did not provide clarification on the specific countries included.
He also said that “the prohibitions would not apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval.” He later corrected himself on Twitter to say that trade “in no way” will be affected by the travel ban. “We are restricting people, not goods,” he tweeted. He also said that he was working with both houses of Congress to get his promised payroll tax cut approved.
Still, many remain unimpressed by Trump’s inability to provide concrete details on his plans to boost the economy amid the crisis. Investors were hoping for a more substantial economic stimulus package and a comprehensive medical plan to combat the coronavirus threat.
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