Donald Trump excludes UK and Ireland from European travel ban as he blames EU for coronavirus spread
The United Kingdom and Ireland will not be included in a ban on European travel to America being imposed by Donald Trump to try and halt the spread of the coronavirus.
The US President unveiled what he called the "strong but necessary" curbs on entry to the country in a televised address from the Oval Office.
"To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days," he said.
"The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight. These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground."
But President Trump confirmed that Britain would be exempt from the curbs which he said would apply to "anything coming from Europe to the United States", including "the tremendous amount of trade and cargo".
"These restrictions will also not apply to the United Kingdom," he said.
US citizens "who have undergone appropriate screenings" will also be exempt from the ban, the US commander-in-chief said.
Documents published by the White House after the speech confirmed that the ban would apply to anyone who had been in the EU's Schengen free movement area within 14 days of their arrival in the US.
The United States has already imposed what President Trump described as "sweeping travel restrictions" on China.
But he lashed out at the European Union for having "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," he said.
The decision to exempt the UK comes despite more than 400 cases of coronavirus so far being confirmed in the country.
Boris Johnson will confirm on Thursday that the UK it is moving to the "delay" phase of its response, an acknowledgement that efforts to contain the spread of the disease have failed.
It is hoped that will lower and delay the peak of the virus's impact in a bid to ease pressure on the health service.
The World Health Organisation on Wednesday declared the virus's spread a pandemic, the first since 2009's outbreak of swine flu.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu said he was "deeply concerned, both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction" by countries in response to the outbreak.