Travellers who've visited the UK, Ireland or any countries in the European Schengen Area in the 14 days prior to their US arrival will now be blocked from entering the United States, in a dramatic extension of temporary travel restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The rule covers all international flights bound for the United States – including those from Australia, New Zealand and around the world – which depart after 11:59pm US eastern daylight time on March 13, 2020: that’s 2:59pm Sydney time on Saturday March 14.
Passengers on any of those inbound flights worldwide may be denied boarding if they've been in the European Schengen Area, the UK or Ireland in the past 14 days, even if they are now flying to the US from a different country. US citizens, lawful US permanent residents and the spouse and immediate family of the same are exempted from the ban.
US travel ban: which European countries are affected?
The Schengen Area is comprised of 26 countries: 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.
Most international passengers travelling to the United States already need to complete a ‘security interview’ and passport check prior to boarding their US-bound flight. It’s expected these checks will be expanded to include questions regarding European travel and a closer inspection of passport stamps.
US travel restrictions also continue to also apply to those who've visited China or Iran.
Elsewhere, India is largely closing its borders to foreign travellers from this week, suspending the use of most visas – including all tourist visas – until at least April 15 2020. Exceptions apply for those with employment, diplomatic, official, United Nations, or ‘project’ visas.
In related news, Qantas is pushing back the launch of its Brisbane-Chicago flights until later this year while also pausing flights from both Melbourne and Brisbane to San Francisco from next month, as part of broader network changes in response to the coronavirus