On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic. The virus had spread to nearly every corner of the globe, with millions of confirmed cases and hundreds of thousands of deaths. In response to the rapidly spreading virus, the United States took drastic measures to slow its spread.
On March 11, 2020, President Donald Trump addressed the nation, announcing that he was suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for a period of 30 days. The travel ban applied to all foreign nationals who had been in the Schengen Area within the past 14 days. The Schengen Area comprises 26 European countries, including France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
The travel ban was put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the United States. At the time, Europe was experiencing a surge in cases, and the fear was that infected travelers would bring the virus to the United States, which could result in a catastrophic outbreak.
The announcement of the travel ban sparked confusion and chaos. Americans who were traveling in Europe scrambled to find flights home before the ban went into effect. European travelers who were already in the United States worried about how they would get home. Airlines were forced to cancel flights and issue refunds to passengers.
The travel ban was initially set to last for 30 days, but it was later extended multiple times. As the pandemic continued to rage on, the United States implemented additional measures to slow the spread of the virus, including mask mandates, social distancing guidelines, and vaccine distribution efforts.
In January 2021, President Joe Biden took office, and he continued many of the COVID-19 measures put in place by his predecessor, including the travel ban. However, on September 25, 2021, the Biden administration announced that it was lifting the travel ban for most European countries come November, provided that travelers tested negative for COVID-19 and provided proof of vaccination before boarding their flights.