WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Under pressure to act, President Donald Trump on Wednesday suspended all travel from Europe to the United States for 30 days starting on Friday in order to fight the coronavirus.
Trump said the travel restrictions did not apply to the United Kingdom. He did not provide a list of countries but said simply the restrictions applied to all of Europe.
The president, who faces re-election in November, took the dramatic step in a somber Oval Office speech as he battles to address the health and economic shocks to Americans and responds to mounting criticism that he has underplayed the threat from the mushrooming coronavirus crisis.
“We are marshalling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people," he said.
"This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history.”
As the U.S. stock market took another hit from the virus on Wednesday, Trump said he would take emergency action to provide financial relief for workers who are ill, quarantined or caring for others due to the illness.
He said he was instructing the Treasury Department to defer tax payments without interest or penalties for certain businesses and individuals affected.
Trump added he was also instructing the Small Business Administration to provide capital and liquidity to firms affected by the virus.
(Reporting by Steve Holland, Eric Beech, Makini Brice, Alexandra Alper and Phil Stewart; Editing by Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney)