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Coronavirus: What you need to know about Trump’s Europe travel ban

US President Donald Trump has announced a travel ban from most European countries in response to the coronavirus spread.

Coronavirus: What you need to know about Trump's Europe travel ban
Donald Trump announces his Europe travel ban. AFP

The ban, which does not include the UK or Ireland, will begin at 11.59pm on Friday, March 13th and last for 30 days. It will include all countries in Europe's Schengen area.

That means all foreign nationals, unless they are exempt from the ban (see below) won't be allowed to board planes for the US from Schengen countries while the ban is in place.

The restrictions do not apply to permanent residents in the US who need to get home to the US or their close family members, although it is possible that airlines may cancel flights in the days ahead as passenger numbers fall.

The countries in the Schengen area are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Trump blamed EU countries for not acting quickly enough to stem the spread of the “foreign virus”. The president had previously banned travel from China when the virus was spreading rapidly through the country.

“The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hotspots. As a result a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travellers from Europe.”

At least 1,257 people in 44 states and Washington, DC have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the latest figures from the New York Times database. At least 37 patients with the virus have died.

In Europe the number of cases has passed the 22,000 mark with 930 deaths.

Trump said: “In total, as of March 9th, 2020, the Schengen Area has exported 201 COVID-19 cases to 53 countries. Moreover, the free flow of people between the Schengen Area countries makes the task of managing the spread of the virus difficult.”

What we know about who is affected by the ban and who isn't

It affects most foreign nationals who have been in Schengen area countries for 14 days before the ban comes into place at 11.59pm Friday March 13th.

It won't affect flights that depart before then but are due to land in the US after that time.

“I have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict and suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of all aliens who were physically present within the Schengen Area during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States,” reads the full text of the restrictions.

The restriction doesn't apply to travel from the UK or Ireland, but it was unclear how US authorities plan to deal with foreign nationals travelling from Europe to the US via those countries.

Permanent residents of the US are not affected by the ban as are certain family members such as their children. Children of US nationals or permanent residents will also be allowed entry.

Legal spouses of US citizens or permanent residents are also not affected as are parents of US citizens or permanent residents as long as their children are unmarried and under the age of 21.

Siblings of US citizens or permanent residents are also exempt, “provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21.”

Other exceptions are made for foreign nationals including crew members on planes or boats, UN or Nato employees and those travelling on the invitation of the US government.

It also exempts “any alien whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus, as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services”.

The US Department of Homeland Security has said that further guidance on the travel suspension will come within the next two days.

The declaration warns that: “An alien who circumvents the application of this proclamation through fraud, willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or illegal entry shall be a priority for removal by the Department of Homeland Security.

How has Europe reacted?

So far reaction to Trump's ban has been muted but that may change throughout the day.

President of the European Council Charles Michel tweeted “we will assess the situation today.”

“Economic disruption must be avoided. Europe is taking all necessary measures to contain the spread of the COVID19 virus, limit the number of affected people and support research.”

The World Health Organisation has previously advised against closing borders and banning international travel.


Member comments

  1. The restriction doesn’t apply to travel from the UK, but it was unclear how US authorities plan to deal with foreign nationals travelling from Europe to the US via the UK. EXACTLY.
    Can we spell IRRESPONBIBLE?

  2. You need to have your passport associated to your ticket days in advance of your flight to USA. When we flew back to the USA from Sweden we went from Stockholm to Denmark, thru Danish passport kontrol then to the USA so the passport had multiple stamps plus RFID so they’d know when you board the plane with final destination to USA where you came from and would probably exclude you from boarding. In the airport you were screened and kept in a separate area so they knew who was cleared to go to the USA (and this was 2016 in Copenhagen). I would not call myself a big supporter of the president, but if everyone gets sick at once, health care will be overwhelmed. We are all going to get this eventually most likely, but by delaying transfer it’ll spread out the cases.

    I can remember days when one kid got chicken pox other parents sent their kid over so they’d get it too, this isn’t like that. You don’t want this and shouldn’t circulate it.

  3. So, apparently, the Virus was introduced to America by Foreigners visiting the USA? He must mean that, as U.S. Citizens can still fly Home from the E.U.
    I wonder what would have been his reaction if the E.U. had at the get-go stopped flights to the U.S.A. so therfore stopping any US Citizens flying Home!

  4. The US citizens or permanent residents won’t Carry or spread the virus, how does Trump know this? It’s important to come home and be with families but being safe is the most important. So why ban only Schengen Zone residents?

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For members


How can a foreign resident apply for Swiss disability insurance?

This particular benefit is part of the compulsory social insurance scheme for all persons living in Switzerland — including foreign citizens.

How can a foreign resident apply for Swiss disability insurance?

Disability insurance (DI), also known in Switzerland as ‘invalidity’ insurance, may sound as though you have to be physically handicapped in order to be eligible to receive this benefit.

But that is not so.

It is intended to replace lost income if you can’t work for long periods of time due to health problems — whatever the type of your ailment.

According to a government brochure on this subject, “the law defines invalidity as a total or partial incapacity to work or inability to perform previous tasks. The reason for the invalidity must be an impairment of physical, mental or psychological health that cannot be overcome with medical treatment and reintegration measures. Possible causes of the health impairment are a congenital infirmity, an illness, an occupational disease or an accident.” 

Are foreigners eligible for this insurance?

Everyone working Switzerland, regardless of the nationality, is insured for DI when they pay their compulsory social security contributions.

Note, however, that you will be entitled to draw full amounts (read more about this below) only if you contribute into the social security scheme from the time you turn 21 without any gaps.

You will receive these payouts for as long as you remain in Switzerland

However, if you move away, there will be some differences  based on whether you come from the EU / EFTA states (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein), or a third country.

Nationals of  EU / EFTA have the same DI rights as Swiss citizens — they will continue to receive the benefits even if they move back.

But if you come from elsewhere, benefits may be limited once you return to your country of origin, if that country doesn’t have a social security agreement with Switzerland.

How can you apply for these benefits?

In order to receive the DI, you will first need to complete an application form for IV/AI benefits (form available in German, French and Italian).

You will have to provide various documents, including medical certificates and other relevant paperwork detailed in the form that will allow authorities to determine whether you are eligible to receive disability  in the first place and, if so, how much (see below).

It is in your interest to register as soon as possible.

If you wait too long, your benefits may be reduced.

How much can you expect to receive?

These payments are intended to cover your essential needs, so don’t expect huge amounts.

The benefits are determined by two factors: your average salary before you become disabled, as well as the degree of your disability, which will be determined by health professionals designated by your social security office.

Logically, the more (and longer) you earned and contributed into the system, the more you will receive.

Generally speaking, the lowest possible full DI pension is currently 1,225 Swiss francs per month.

The highest is 2,450 francs per month — if  you earned 86,040 francs or more per year and you have paid uninterrupted contributions from age 21.

What if these amounts are not enough for you to live on?

In this case you could receive supplemental benefits at a level considered adequate to maintain a reasonable standard of living.

Whether or not you are eligible for these benefits depends on your combined income and your personal wealth. You can only receive supplemental benefits as long as you live in Switzerland, though — unlike the basic DI, they are not transferable abroad.