The coronavirus is quickly spreading throughout America. How bad is it? Is it still safe to travel to the United States? What measures can I take? Can I still apply for a visa or ESTA for my trip? Here you can read everything there is to know about the coronavirus in the USA.
Minor flu in China, now worldwide pandemic
What started as a handful of usual flu cases has quick grown to become a tidal wave of infections, not just in China but throughout the rest of the world. Entire cities have been put in "lockdown", meaning no one is allowed in or out. The health of thousands of people is now at risk, particularly those that are already suffering from other afflictions. The global economy has taken a serious beating. Several countries are predicting a sharp decline in economic growth, and stock markets have been plummeting for weeks.
How bad is the outbreak in America?
It took a little while for the virus to reach the USA. As one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, it was only a matter of time before the first cases rose up. The most recent count puts the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in America on 750, according to John Hopkins University. This is quite a bit less than many European countries. Italy, for example, currently has over 9000 cases, and countries like Germany and Spain several thousand. However, the U.S. government warns people that it is likely that there are more infected people. Most infections are found in cities as New York and Washington D.C.
Over ten people have already recovered. Most infections were due to people returning from another country that was already dealing with an outbreak of coronavirus, but there are also more and more cases of person-to-person contamination within the USA itself. 26 people have died as a result of the coronavirus. Almost all of them were elderly or had prior serious illnesses.
Can I still travel to the USA?
One of the most prominent questions people have is whether they can still travel to the USA. After all, many countries have taken measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Vietnam, for instance, put a stop to issuing visas for European countries that have an outbreak of the virus. On 11-03-2020, U.S. president Donald Trump announced that the United States will issue a travel ban to all European travellers headed to the USA. This ban is set to commence on Saturday 14-3-2020. The travel ban applies to all Schengen area countries. This means all European countries except for Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Ireland.
Furthermore, anyone who has been to one of these countries in the 14 days before they are set to go to the United States will not be allowed to enter. This means that even if you do not hold the nationality of one of these countries, if you’ve been to any of them, there needs to be a gap of at least two weeks before you try to travel to America. There are a few exceptions, such as Europeans that have direct relatives in the USA, or U.S. citizens heading back from Europe. But even these travellers need to have undergone a thorough screening beforehand, to make sure they are not infected when they get on the plane.
Is the United Kingdom part of the travel ban?
No. The United Kingdom is not part of the Schengen area and as such is not included in the travel ban. The United States government has not yet announced any plans to extend this ban to the UK. This means that British citizens can still apply for an ESTA visa for their trip to the USA as normal. Take note that you cannot have been to any of the banned countries in the past two weeks. Furthermore, it is wise to keep a close eye on the ESTA requirements, as they might change in response to the spreading of the coronavirus.
What can I do to protect myself?
British nationals are still allowed to travel to the United States. If you are planning to go on a trip to the USA, you can take a few simple precautions to protect yourself against the coronavirus. These measures are generally the same as during the usual flu season. Avoid unnecessary contact with people, particularly people that have a cold or are showing flu-like symptoms. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as much as possible, as your hands are frequently in contact with various surfaces throughout the day. Make sure to regularly clean your phone. Wash your hands multiple times a day, at least 20 seconds per wash. A face mask is not particularly necessary if you’re not infected.
And, of course, it is important that you don’t forget about the standard ESTA requirements. This means applying for your ESTA on time, having a passport that is valid for the entirety of your stay in the United States, and making sure your stay doesn’t last longer than 90 days. As long as all of these rules are observed, British citizens can still travel to the USA as usual.
Take note: the information on this page may be outdated. Before applying for an ESTA, read all about the current coronavirus situation in the US.