TRAVEL restrictions on people travelling to the US from 26 European countries will not impact Ireland, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed at a meeting with President Donald Trump.
Speaking in the Oval Office alongside the US President, Mr Varadkar said: “The President has excluded Ireland from the travel ban."
He was speaking after Mr Trump did not clarify whether Ireland was impacted by his unilateral announcement on Wednesday night.
The two leaders did not shake hands.— Hugh O'Connell (@oconnellhugh) March 12, 2020
"Sort of a weird feeling," the President said. pic.twitter.com/CZ1bluyFae
“They know and I think it was made very clear last night who is and who isn’t and we’ll be discussing that," the President said.
Mr Trump did not rule out extending the travel ban beyond the 30 days last night but stressed repeatedly during a lengthy Q&A with reporters that the Coronavirus will go away.
Despite widespread criticism of Mr Trump's unilateral action in announcing the ban without consulting European governments, Mr Varadkar highlighted the President's "decisive" action while outlining Irish measures announced earlier.
“We’ve acted just as you’ve acted decisively in the last couple of days. So we have restrictions on travel to Italy for a few days already. But as of tomorrow our schools will close our creches will close. We’re banning all indoor gatherings of more than 100 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people," he said.
Mr Trump said that Irish citizens will always be welcome in the United States.
Mr Trump also described Mr Varadkar as "a very special guy" when asked whether he would like to see the Taoiseach return to the White House next year.
As efforts to combat the spread of the virus continue, the two leaders did not shake hands - a situation Mr Trump described as "a weird feeling".