WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump issued a proclamation on Sunday banning individuals who have been in Brazil within 14 days prior to attempting to enter the United States in the latest travel restrictions aimed at containing the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
The president, citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent and the Department of Homeland Security, said Brazil was the latest country to face travel restrictions as the country continues to face a surge in cases of COVID-19, according to the order. The order will take effect May 28 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
Brazil is among the hardest hit countries in the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 347,000 cases and at least 22,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The country is only second to the U.S. in terms of total positive cases.Brazil recently surpassed Russia, which has more than 344,000 cases of the coronavirus.
“Today, the President has taken decisive action to protect our country by suspending the entry of aliens who have been in Brazil during the 14-day period before seeking admittance to the United States,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.
The new restrictions, however, “do not apply to the flow of commerce between the United States and Brazil,” she added.
Earlier on Sunday, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien signaled the Trump administration would announce new restrictions on Brazil, telling CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he hoped the freeze would be “temporary.”
“We hope that’ll be temporary, but because of the situation in Brazil, we’re going to take every step necessary to protect the American people,” he said, adding that travel restrictions for other countries in South America would be determined on a “country-by-country basis.”
O’Brien said Brazil was having a “rough go of it,” adding that the administration is deploying ventilators to both Brazil and Russia.
Is international travel allowed yet? See when Spain, Mexico, Iceland plan to reopen borders
Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly dismissed the pandemic, likening the virus to “a little flue” and urging the country’s governors to lift stay-at-home orders and reopen for business.
Bolsonaro’s communications secretary tested positive for COVID-19 in March, just five days after they attended a gathering at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla. Both Bolsonaro and Trump have since tested negative for the virus.
All foreign nationals from China, Iran and certain European countries are barred from entering the country. This ban includes anyone who visited these countries within the 14 days prior to their U.S. trip.
The targeted European countries include 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. President Donald Trump later added the United Kingdom and Ireland to this list.
The U.S. border with Canada and Mexico will also remain closed until June 22. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security extended border closures to nonessential travel earlier this month, citing concerns over the spread of COVID-19.
Contributing: Nicquel Terry Ellis