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'Mass panic' as travelers rush to get back to U.S. after Trump order

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on March 12, 2020 - Duration: 02:10s

'Mass panic' as travelers rush to get back to U.S. after Trump order

Bleary-eyed and stressed, travelers scrambled at European airports to board flights to the United States on Thursday after U.S. President Donald Trump announced sweeping travel restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Francesca Lynagh reports.

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'Mass panic' as travelers rush to get back to U.S. after Trump order

Queues...and confusion...at European airports on Thursday (March 12) after U.S. President Donald Trump announced of sweeping travel restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Some passengers were left scrambling to board U.S.-bound flights from Frankfurt, Madrid, Paris and Brussels airports before the 30-day travel order kicks in at midnight on Friday (March 13).

(SOUNDBITE) (English) 29-YEAR-OLD BUILDER FROM ATLANTA, JAY HARRISON, SAYING "Well, we are nervous that we won't be able to get back into the country (United states) and, you know, if it's going to be another 30 days and we're stranded, it's going to be very difficult, very expensive and just tough to get back in and tough to live with." It's unprecedented territory, but some passengers were able to keep their cool.

(SOUNDBITE) (German) TRAVELER AGATHA CZERWINSKA, SAYING: "Fear?

Why should I be worried?

Generally, no.

This measure might be a good solution.

But why should we be worried?

Just wash your hands.

I think it's just panic at the moment.

Let's wait and see how it progresses.

I really don't think we should worry." (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) SPANISH RESIDENT REGINA, TRAVELING TO MIAMI, SAYING: "If they (United States) have to take those measures, let them take them.

We need to be prudent and careful, but there's no need to get desperate." As it stands, citizens of 26 continental European countries will not be able to fly directly to the U.S..

That excludes Britain, Ireland as well as American citizens and permanent residents.

Trump said he was forced to act because of the European Union's failure to take adequate measures to halt the spread of the virus.

But the EU says it is taking "strong" measures to limit the spread of the virus and disapproves of the unilateral travel ban on European countries -- especially given the lack of consultation.

The coronavirus, which the World Health Organization has now described as a pandemic, has killed over 4,600 people worldwide and infected more than 126,000.

China - where the disease originated - has said its epidemic has peaked, and that the global spread could be over by June if other nations were as aggressive with their containment measures as the Beijing government.

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