Managing the Commercial Impact of the Coronavirus: Presidential Ban on Certain European Travel

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Foley & Lardner LLP“While these new travel restrictions will be disruptive to some travelers, this decisive action is needed to protect the American public from further exposure to the potentially deadly coronavirus.” (~ DHS Acting Secretary, Chad F. Wolf)

The coronavirus (provisionally named SARS-CoV-2, with its disease being named COVID-19) has now been documented in more than 100 countries and territories, with over 120,000 cases across the globe.  In the United States, there have been more than 1,000 reported cases across at least 45 states. The coronavirus has significantly impacted domestic and foreign travel.  Just yesterday, the Department of State issued a Global Health Advisory – Level 3 (the second highest advisory), requesting United States citizens reconsider any international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. In addition, many businesses have imposed restrictions on domestic and foreign employee travel. Twitter, Amazon, Salesforce and Nike, in addition to scores of manufacturers and professional service firms, are among the companies banning certain employee travel due to the coronavirus.  

On Wednesday, March 11, President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation (the “Proclamation”) that limited travel from certain European countries to the United States (to view the Proclamation, click here).  The ban goes into effect at 11:59 PM EST on Friday, March 13, 2020. The following lists some general facts about the Proclamation to guide companies in decision-making and risk mitigation. 

  1. Suspension and Limitation on Entry. The Proclamation does not apply to United States citizens or lawful permanent residents.  Rather, any noncitizen that was physically present within the Schengen Area during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States is barred from entry into the United States.  The Schengen Area comprises 26 European states: 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.  This Proclamation does not affect the United Kingdom, Ireland, Croatia, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania.
  2. Noncitizen Exceptions. The Proclamation does not apply to several categories of noncitizens, including (1) spouses of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, (2) parents or legal guardians of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents that are unmarried and under the age of 21; (3) siblings of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, provided both are unmarried and under the age of 21; (4) children or prospective adoptees of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents; (5) invitees of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus.
  3. Other Interesting Exceptions. The Proclamation also includes three exceptions that provide flexibility to the government if necessary: (1) any noncitizen 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, through the CDC Director or his designee; (2) any noncitizen whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee; (3) any noncitizen whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees.
  4. Duration. The Proclamation will remain in effect until terminated by the President.   
  5. United States Citizens Returning From the Schengen Area. According to travel.state.gov,1  the Department of Homeland Security will be issuing instructions requiring United States passengers that have been in the Schengen Area to travel through select airports where the United States Government has implemented enhanced screening procedures (to view the latest press release from the Department of Homeland Security, click here).  More to follow.
  6. The Effect on Commerce. The Proclamation does not affect trade or commerce between the United States and the Schengen Area.  According to President Trump, as articulated in the Proclamation, “The free flow of commerce between the United States and the Schengen Area countries remains an economic priority for the United States, and I remain committed to facilitating trade between our nations.”

 For additional web-based resources available to assist you in monitoring the spread of the coronavirus on a global basis, you may visit the CDC and the World Health Organization

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1 https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel.html

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