LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The arrivals level of LAX was strangely quiet Friday morning, but it’s about to get quieter as a travel ban on travelers from Europe goes into effect at midnight in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.
President Trump on Wednesday night announced the ban on foreign nationals who have been in one of 26 European countries. The ban, which goes into effect at midnight, does not apply to the United Kingdom or to U.S. citizens, who will be required to be screened and go into quarantine for two weeks when they arrive.
Travelers passing through LAX took the new restrictions with a grain of salt.
“I’m 65 years old, I’ve been through a lot of crises,” one man said. “I guess we’re gonna get through this one.”
The impending ban caused some panic among Americans traveling in Europe. There were reports of last-minute flights back to the U.S. costing $20,000, and Delta Air asked travelers who are not flying within the next 72 hours to contact them closer to their trips to ease the traffic on delta.com.
High traffic on https://t.co/yQj0bzerMw is causing site issues, and we recognize this is frustrating. To prioritize the needs of customers impacted by the government-issued travel restrictions, we ask those who are not traveling in the next 72hrs to contact us closer to your trip pic.twitter.com/l0BbHI0TnD
— Delta (@Delta) March 13, 2020
United Airlines says they will continue to fly their regular schedule between Europe and the U.S. through March 20.
LAX is the second-largest gateway to Europe and is one of the 11 airports equipped to screen for coronavirus. While screening is expected to expand to other airports, LAX is already screening travelers from China and Iran.
The spread of the coronavirus outbreak has prompted school closures, shuttered Southern California landmarks like Disneyland and caused panic buying by consumers concerned they will be quarantined.