American tourists descend on Barcelona airport

‘People started to roll in like a wave’: American tourists desperate to flee Europe descend on Barcelona airport amid chaos and confusion over Trump’s travel ban

  • American tourists were seen fleeing Barcelona after President Trump travel ban
  • U.S citizens rushed to El Prat Airport in Spain after 30-day travel ban proposal 
  • President Trump has announced a ban on any travel to the U.S. from Europe 
  • No information was given on which time zone the ban would commence in 
  • The United Kingdom and Ireland will not be included in the 30-day travel ban 

Panic has ensued as American tourists and students desperately tried to flee Europe after President Donald Trump stopped all travel from the continent to the United States. 

Hundreds of tourists were seen rushing to El Prat Airport in Barcelona, Spain, after Trump announced a 30-day travel restriction to start this Friday in a bid to slow down the progression of the coronavirus.  

Tourists from the U.S., who were left shrouded in confusion by the details of the travel ban, scrambled to the Spanish airport in the early hours of Thursday morning in a desperate attempt to fly back home.  

Sharing footage of the chaotic scenes, American passenger Michael Bjork, 22, from Dinkytown, Minnesota, who was scheduled to fly back home next week, took to Twitter to write: ‘4:30 AM @ El Prat Airport. 

American tourists were seen rushing to El Prat Airport in Barcelona, Spain, after Trump announced a 30-day travel ban to start on Friday

‘Literally all American tourists and students in here fleeing Barcelona after Trump’s travel ban pray for us.’ 

Speaking to MailOnline Mr Bjork, a student at the University of Minnesota, said: ‘I woke up from WhatsApp call from my dad explaining the situation. My dad has been nervous about this holiday for a couple of weeks. I simply told him I would figure it out in the morning.

‘Then I proceeded to get the exact same call from my mother demanding I return to the U.S. immediately. After maybe a minute of deliberation I decided to wake up the three other people staying with me at the Airbnb and inform them of it.

‘We decided it would be best to go immediately to the airport to try and move our flights.’

‘We got to the airport fairly quickly whilst it was still open. We woke up about 2am and were there by 3.30am.

‘People started to roll in like a wave. Almost all Americans and lots of students. Some here on spring break like my group and others studying here for the semester.’ 

He added: ‘Most people were very confused on what exactly the travel ban meant and honestly we’re still a bit confused on the rules. At first we thought we had till Friday to get back home but now it’s possible just for foreign nationals?

‘It seemed like a deceiving announcement that was poorly communicated by our government and a bit quick. 

‘Glad to see action is being taken to prevent the spread of the illness but the government scared so many Americans to buying a absurdly priced plane tickets and cluster the airport where the virus could spread more.’

The scenes come after Trump proposed a 30-day travel restriction to start this Friday as he addressed the American public about the worsening coronavirus panic in the U.S. during a prime time Wednesday speech from the Oval Office. 

During the rare address, which came hours after the world health officials declared the coronavirus a pandemic, the American leader said the country would counter the virus and defended his plans. 

Tourists scrambled to the Spanish airport on Thursday morning in a desperate attempt to fly back home

The panic came after Donald Trump addressed the Nation from the Oval Office about the widening novel coronavirus on Wednesday

In his speech to the nation he said: ‘We will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days.’

He continued: ‘The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight. 

The sudden move, which will not include the United Kingdom and Ireland, has now left Europeans and Americans shrouded in confusion, with some passengers about to board flights turning back around. 

The proposed travel ban will apply to foreign nationals who have visited 26 European countries – but excluding the UK and Ireland – in the past 14 days.  


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, Switzerland


Most foreign nationals who have been in these countries at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the United States*


‘Legal permanent residents, (generally) immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and other individuals who are identified in the proclamation.’*

* according to Department of Homeland Secur

The United Kingdom and Ireland will not be included in the ban but confusion about what is to come on Friday caused panic for Europeans and Americans alike with some passengers about to board flights turning back around.   

The White House said the travel restrictions would apply to foreign nationals who have visited 26 European countries – but excluding the UK and Ireland – in the past 14 days.

It will not apply to US citizens, their ‘immediate’ family members or legal permanent residents. But confusion remained over how exactly the rules would apply and in what time zone the deadline would be introduced.

Confusion still remains however as to what airlines will stop their flights in accordance with Trump’s latest proposal. 

U.S. airlines have already cut flight schedules to Italy, facing the largest European outbreak, and will take another for flights from major destinations such as France and Germany.        

Nicholas E. Callio, president of airline trade group Airlines for America, said the ban would hit U.S. airlines, their employees and travellers ‘extremely hard’.

He said his group respected the need to take the unprecedented action, but Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Sarah Nelson called the ban ‘irresponsible’. 

American Airlines could be relatively spared because of its alliance with British Airways and higher share of UK traffic while Air France-KLM partner Delta Air Lines and Lufthansa ally United Airlines are expected to suffer more, independent aviation analyst Mike Boyd said.

He said: ‘But the fact is that with the news of the spread of the virus in Europe, the flights would be empty anyway.’

American Airlines said it was in contact with the U.S. government to understand and comply with the directive.

Delta said it would waive reservation change fees for customers traveling to, from or through Europe and Britain through May 31 and United did not respond to requests for comment. 

Meanwhile earlier this morning in the U.S. a reporter who was in John F. Kennedy airport described how many people continued to travel and airline staff waited for flights to board before removing the luggage of passengers who decided not to continue with their journey. 

Adriana Dileo, 25, from Pittsburgh had traveled to New York to take a flight from JFK to Barcelona. 

Adriana Dileo and Brian Cardenas decided not to travel to Barcelona on hearing of the ban on travel from Europe while they were already in John F. Kennedy airport

She had originally been due to go to Italy for three months to teach English but changed her travel plans because of the outbreak there. Italy has suffered the worst outbreak outside of Asia. 

Dileo then planned a shorter alternative European trip to go to Barcelona for four days and then Amsterdam for three days. On Wednesday evening, she was trying to change her flight and go to London or to a country that is not included in the ban.

‘I was already in the airport and found out when my dad called freaking out. I can’t believe it. He said if you get on that plane you’re not coming back. Get out of the airport,’ she said. 

‘We are trying to go to London now or somewhere else not affected by the ban.

‘I haven’t been worried about things at all. I believe it’s like the flu and I’m healthy.’

Amy Mu, 22, her boyfriend Johannes Pascual and his sister Justine Pascual were due to board a flight to Paris for his cousin Yasmin’s wedding. 

His parents were already in the air when the ban was announced, traveling from San Francisco to Paris and unaware of the changes.


As of midnight on Wednesday, the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose to 1,315

Justine is studying and with her classes are cancelled so she continued to get on the flight. She said it wouldn’t affect her too much if she is stuck in Paris.

Amy said she won’t go, deciding it was not worth the risk if further restrictions are to come as she will need to return to her job as a researcher in Colombia. 

‘I’m a green card holder and not a US citizen so am worried I will lose my job if I leave. It’s too much of a risk,’ she said. 

‘I haven’t been super worried about coronavirus as have been taking precautions and am young. I’m more worried for the rest of the population.  

Travelers in JFK airport after the announcement were left unsure of their travel plans

People check in to a British Airways flight at the international terminal at LAX airport in Los Angeles on March 11. The United Kingdom is not included in the travel ban 

Others who were in airports when Trump made the announcement spoke about the drastic change in atmosphere as confused travelers were unsure as to whether it would affect their plans or their return to the United States. 

‘I was going to be the intrepid traveler with my traveling buddies but the government decided otherwise so I’m putting on a brave face’, said one American passenger at Philadelphia Airport who overheard the announcement as they were about to board a flight to Europe and decided not to take the flight. 

‘I’ve been in airports during snowstorms, hurricanes, and severe storms… but being in the international departures terminal of an airport after the president announces a ‘flight suspension’ from Europe was a feeling like no other,’ said Sam Sweeney. a reporter with ABC7 News. 

‘This is uncharted territory.’

Reporter Jennifer Berry Hawes was also in the international terminal at Atlanta airport which was empty an hour before her flight. 

‘Scene now at the Atlanta airport international terminal right after Trump announced no return flights from Europe for a month,’ she wrote.   

‘One hour to decide what to do. Risk getting stranded?’   

Even though Ireland is not included in the ban, one flight boarding from JFK to Dublin was warned about the travel suspension announcement.   

‘If the leader of the free world is telling you that, you know your travel is being affected I would think that we have to give you your money back,’ the airline staff told the waiting passengers.   

Despite Trump declaring that American travelers are not included in the ban and will be allowed back into the country with screening through certain airports, several posted to social media about how they were fleeing the continent before the ban intensified. 

One U.S. citizen claimed he met a group of students from Washington D.C. in Lisbon Airport as he rushed to find a way home. They told him they had informed the U.S. embassy about the ban when they called panicked about their situation.

‘It’s 2:12am and I’m in Europe walking to the airport to attempt to buy a plane ticket home to the USA before this travel ban happens in 22 hours. I can’t seem to access news in a timely fashion. Anyone know if this applies to US citizens?’ wrote Brian Kachinsky. 

‘I’m at the Lisbon airport. I just talked with a group of college students from DC. The STUDENTS called the embassy and informed THEM of this situation. The US embassy was not informed of this prior to Trump’s announcement,’ he added.  

‘My mom woke me up out of dead ass sleep at 320 am just now to say we are gonna be stuck in Europe for a month. It’s 410 and we otw to the airport,’ another Twitter user wrote. 

Others questioned the exact details of the ban, including the time zone that was to be used when it starts. 

‘What does midnight Friday mean? What timezone would trigger midnight Friday? A half hour of sheer panic for Americans in Europe just now,’ said American Melissa Brown. 

‘It’s 4 a.m. in west Europe right now. I think it’s likely people are about to start flooding European airports trying to get home amid conflicting information, just as we’ve been advised to avoid large groups.’

‘So irresponsible for the President to not explain this in detail,’ added another Twitter user. 

‘I know people in Europe right now that literally started packing and went to the airport immediately. We elect a President to handle a crisis the right way this guy isn’t capable of that.’ 

 The decision to ban travel from Europe came so suddenly that information on how it will be implemented will not be released for another 48 hours.

‘We will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days,’ Trump announced. 

‘The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight.’


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, Switzerland 

A statement from Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad F. Wold was released after Trump’s announcement, confirming that the ban would effect countries in the Schengen Area including 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.

The ban will not apply to legal permanent residents or in most cases, to immediate family members of U.S. citizens.  

‘Protecting the American people from threats to their safety is the most important job of the President of the United States,’ Wold said.  

A statement from Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad F. Wold was released after Trump’s announcement about the ban on travel to the U.S. from Europe

‘The actions President Trump is taking to deny entry to foreign nationals who have been in affected areas will keep Americans safe and save American lives. I applaud the president for making this tough but necessary decision.  

‘While these new travel restrictions will be disruptive to some travelers, this decisive action is needed to protect the American public from further exposure to the potentially deadly coronavirus.’  

Wold added that the restrictions would be similar to those placed on individuals  who had been in China and Iran in January and February. 

‘That action proved to be effective in slowing the spread of the virus to the U.S., while public health officials prepared,’ he said. 

Within the next 48 hours, Wold also announced he would issue a supplemental Notice of Arrivals Restriction requiring U.S. passengers that have been in the Schengen Area to travel through select airports where the U.S. Government has implemented enhanced screening procedure. 

The epicenter of the disease in Europe is in Italy, where the government ordered the shutdown of virtually the entire economy as the number of people diagnosed soared and overwhelmed hospitals had to decide who to save from death. 

Health officials have warned in recent days about the risk of further spread of the virus from European travelers visiting the U.S. or Americans returning from trips there.  

‘These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground,’ he said. He said there would be exemptions for Americans who underwent ‘appropriate screenings.’ 

Trump also spoke to trade between Europe and the U.S. ‘Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing,’ he said.

But then the White House had to issue an astonishing clarification – that the president had misspoken and the ban in fact only applies to humans. 

Read the full text of Donald Trump’s address to the nation on the coronavirus crisis

My fellow Americans: Tonight, I want to speak with you about our nation’s unprecedented response to the coronavirus outbreak that started in China and is now spreading throughout the world. 

Today, the World Health Organization officially announced that this is a global pandemic. 

We have been in frequent contact with our allies, and we are marshalling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people. 

This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history. 

I am confident that by counting and continuing to take these tough measures, we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens, and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus. 

From the beginning of time, nations and people have faced unforeseen challenges, including large-scale and very dangerous health threats. 

This is the way it always was and always will be. It only matters how you respond, and we are responding with great speed and professionalism. 

Our team is the best anywhere in the world. 

At the very start of the outbreak, we instituted sweeping travel restrictions on China and put in place the first federally mandated quarantine in over 50 years. 

We declared a public health emergency and issued the highest level of travel warning on other countries as the virus spread its horrible infection.

And taking early intense action, we have seen dramatically fewer cases of the virus in the United States than are now present in Europe. 

The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hotspots. 

As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe. 

After consulting with our top government health professionals, I have decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health and wellbeing of all Americans. 

To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. 

The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight. These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground.

There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings, and these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval.

 Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing. 

These restrictions will also not apply to the United Kingdom. 

At the same time, we are monitoring the situation in China and in South Korea.

 And, as their situation improves, we will reevaluate the restrictions and warnings that are currently in place for a possible early opening. 

Earlier this week, I met with the leaders of health insurance industry who have agreed to waive all copayments for coronavirus treatments, extend insurance coverage to these treatments, and to prevent surprise medical billing. 

We are cutting massive amounts of red tape to make antiviral therapies available in record time. 

These treatments will significantly reduce the impact and reach of the virus.

 Additionally, last week, I signed into law an $8.3 billion funding bill to help CDC and other government agencies fight the virus and support vaccines, treatments, and distribution of medical supplies. 

Testing and testing capabilities are expanding rapidly, day by day. We are moving very quickly. 

The vast majority of Americans: The risk is very, very low. Young and healthy people can expect to recover fully and quickly if they should get the virus. 

The highest risk is for elderly population with underlying health conditions.  

The elderly population must be very, very careful. In particular, we are strongly advising that nursing homes for the elderly suspend all medically unnecessary visits. 

In general, older Americans should also avoid nonessential travel in crowded areas. 

My administration is coordinating directly with communities with the largest outbreaks, and we have issued guidance on school closures, social distancing, and reducing large gatherings. 

Smart action today will prevent the spread of the virus tomorrow. 

Every community faces different risks and it is critical for you to follow the guidelines of your local officials who are working closely with our federal health experts — and they are the best. 

For all Americans, it is essential that everyone take extra precautions and practice good hygiene. 

Each of us has a role to play in defeating this virus. 

Wash your hands, clean often-used surfaces, cover your face and mouth if you sneeze or cough, and most of all, if you are sick or not feeling well, stay home. 

To ensure that working Americans impacted by the virus can stay home without fear of financial hardship, I will soon be taking emergency action, which is unprecedented, to provide financial relief. 

This will be targeted for workers who are ill, quarantined, or caring for others due to coronavirus. 

I will be asking Congress to take legislative action to extend this relief. 

Because of the economic policies that we have put into place over the last three years, we have the greatest economy anywhere in the world, by far. 

Our banks and financial institutions are fully capitalized and incredibly strong. Our unemployment is at a historic low. 

This vast economic prosperity gives us flexibility, reserves, and resources to handle any threat that comes our way. 

This is not a financial crisis, this is just a temporary moment of time that we will overcome together as a nation and as a world. 

However, to provide extra support for American workers, families, and businesses, tonight I am announcing the following additional actions: I am instructing the Small Business Administration to exercise available authority to provide capital and liquidity to firms affected by the coronavirus. 

Effective immediately, the SBA will begin providing economic loans in affected states and territories. 

These low-interest loans will help small businesses overcome temporary economic disruptions caused by the virus. 

To this end, I am asking Congress to increase funding for this program by an additional $50 billion. 

Using emergency authority, I will be instructing the Treasury Department to defer tax payments, without interest or penalties, for certain individuals and businesses negatively impacted. 

This action will provide more than $200 billion of additional liquidity to the economy. 

Finally, I am calling on Congress to provide Americans with immediate payroll tax relief. 

Hopefully they will consider this very strongly. 

We are at a critical time in the fight against the virus. We made a life-saving move with early action on China. 

Now we must take the same action with Europe. We will not delay. 

I will never hesitate to take any necessary steps to protect the lives, health, and safety of the American people. 

I will always put the wellbeing of America first. 

If we are vigilant — and we can reduce the chance of infection, which we will — we will significantly impede the transmission of the virus. 

The virus will not have a chance against us. No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States. 

We have the best economy, the most advanced healthcare, and the most talented doctors, scientists, and researchers anywhere in the world. We are all in this together. 

We must put politics aside, stop the partisanship, and unify together as one nation and one family. 

As history has proven time and time again, Americans always rise to the challenge and overcome adversity. 

Our future remains brighter than anyone can imagine. 

Acting with compassion and love, we will heal the sick, care for those in need, help our fellow citizens, and emerge from this challenge stronger and more unified than ever before. 

God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you.



















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