Donald Trump has explained his decision to exclude the United Kingdom from his European travel restrictions by saying Britain was doing a "good job" in fighting the coronavirus. The UK has so far recorded 590 cases and 10 deaths.
Following widespread criticism of his Oval Office address to the nation on Wednesday evening, when he announced a raft of restrictions on travel from European countries from Friday, the president said he had not consulted with European officials – some of whom complained they felt blindsided by the announcement – because he had to move quickly.
The restrictions will come into effect on Friday and are initially scheduled to last for 30 days, although Mr Trump said on Thursday that he could either lengthen or shorten that timeframe.
There was surprise that Mr Trump had exempted the UK – and Ireland – from his measures as cases there are increasing. It was announced this week that a health minister, Nadine Dorries, had tested positive for the virus.
The president is an ally of British prime minister Boris Johnson and supported Britain's departure from the EU. Mr Trump also owns three golf resorts in the UK and Ireland.
Speaking in the Oval Office alongside the Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, Mr Trump said: "One of the reasons the UK, basically, has been: It's got the border; it's got very strong borders. And they're doing a very good job. They don't have very much infection at this point, and hopefully they'll keep it that way."
House speaker Nancy Pelosi called the travel restrictions "strange" and queried the sense of exempting Britain, saying that European travellers could simoply travel to the US via the UK.
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