US President Donald Trump has suspended entry to the United States to all foreign nationals who have been within Europe’s Schengen Area for the last 14 days, reports the New York Times. Iceland is among the 26 countries affected by the 30-day travel ban, which will go into effect on Friday at midnight.
According to an announcement on the US Department of Homeland Security website, the travel ban “suspends the entry of most foreign nationals who have been in certain European countries at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the United States.” In addition to Iceland, the Schengen Area includes Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
The ban does not extend to legal permanent residents of the US, or immediate family members of U.S. citizens.
The travel ban is expected to have a significant economic impact on Iceland, not least because it’s expected that fewer US citizens will travel abroad in the coming weeks or months after an advisory issued by the US State Department urged Americans to “reconsider travel abroad.” The majority of tourists who visit Iceland come from the US, Kjarninn reports, with 464,000 US citizens visiting the country in 2019.
In an email sent early Thursday morning, Icelandair encouraged employees in a position to take unpaid leave to do so: “In this context, we would like to ask those employees who are interested in, or who see an opportunity in, taking unpaid leave during the coming months; are about to take maternity or paternity leave (and are interested in extending their leave); or can foresee working fewer hours; to discuss such options with their superior officers before noon on Friday.
Despite the predicted negative impact of the travel ban, CEO of Icelandair Group Bogi Nils Bogason stated that the company’s liquidity was strong, adding that he did not foresee having to accept assistance from the government: “We are determined to get through this and that will be our goal over the coming days.”