May 24, 2020 - World

White House announces new coronavirus travel restrictions on Brazil

Bolsonaro and Trump

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro with Trump, March 19, 2019. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool via Getty Images

The White House announced that beginning at 11:59 pm ET on Thursday, President Trump would suspend entry of non-U.S. citizens who have been in Brazil in the past 14 days in an effort to stop the imported spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Brazil has reported nearly 350,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus — the second-most in the world behind the U.S. — and has emerged as a Southern Hemisphere hotspot as other heavily affected countries in Asia and Europe have managed to get their outbreaks under control.

  • However, there continues to be significant community spread of the virus within the U.S., which will not be curbed by further outside travel restrictions.

The big picture: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has come under fire for dismissing the virus as a "little flu" and aggressively pushing to reopen the economy, which is heading for its worst recession ever.

  • On Sunday, a mask-less Bolsonaro attended a rally in Brasilia, shaking hands, embracing supporters and ignoring social distancing measures as coronavirus cases continued to surge.

What they're saying:

Today, the President has taken decisive action to protect our country by suspending the entry of aliens who have been in Brazil during the 14-day period before seeking admittance to the United States. As of May 23, 2020, Brazil had 310,087 confirmed cases of COVID-19, which is the third highest number of confirmed cases in the world. Today’s action will help ensure foreign nationals who have been in Brazil do not become a source of additional infections in our country. These new restrictions do not apply to the flow of commerce between the United States and Brazil.
— White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany
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