President Donald Trump said Wednesday he was sharply restricting travel to the United States from more than two dozen European countries, a drastic step he framed as an attempt to contain a spreading public health crisis that has engulfed his presidency, caused global market turmoil and disrupted everyday life.
In an primetime Oval Office address meant to rebut criticism that he’s taken the matter too lightly, Trump framed his announcement as a suspension of “all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days.”
But immediately afterward, his administration made clear it was not as drastic as the President stated:
The ban will apply only to foreign nationals and not to American citizens who had been screened before entering the country, mimicking restrictions he applied to China last month.
Trump was also forced to clarify he was not blocking goods from Europe, despite saying his ban would “apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo” across the Atlantic.
He tweeted the ban would apply to “people not goods” after stock futures tumbled on the prospect of a trade freeze.
The clarifications aside, Trump’s grave-sounding remarks from the Oval Office abandoned his rosy portrayals of the global pandemic, choosing instead to frame the outbreak as a “foreign virus” washing on American shores, despite increasing instances of community spread inside the US.