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Europe, And Americans Abroad There, Respond To Coronavirus Travel Restrictions


World leaders are taking ever stricter measures, hoping to stop the spread of the coronavirus. In France, President Emmanuel Macron announced that starting Monday, all French schools will close indefinitely, and President Trump has banned foreign travelers from many European countries. As NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports from Paris, Europeans and Americans abroad face a new reality.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Keep new cases from entering our shores.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: President Trump's announcement that he was banning flights from Europe played on TV screens in France and beyond, prompting shocked reactions from Europeans. The EU responded to Trump's decision to ban flights from 26 countries in a terse statement, saying the move was taken unilaterally and without consultation. It added that the coronavirus is a global crisis not limited to any continent, and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action.

Susan Rokose went to Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport to see if she could get an earlier flight to Atlanta. There were none available, but she says she's not worried.

SUSAN ROKOSE: No, no. I don't feel worried at all, honestly, and I feel like there's so much less panic here than in the United States from what we're hearing.


BEARDSLEY: Mississippi College student Lily Brown is arriving at her terminal. She says her family wanted her home, but she says she actually felt safer studying in the Loire Valley, where there were hardly any cases. Brown says she was well taken care of in France.

LILY BROWN: Here, we get free health care. We were part of a program that gave us the health care, and most of the time, that - it would be maybe $25 if we paid anything. So that was really good for us, so we're at a lot of disadvantages going back right now.

BEARDSLEY: France now has more than 2,000 cases of the coronavirus. It's a similar picture over in Germany, although the country has suffered fewer deaths. Still, Chancellor Angela Merkel told the German people as many as 70% of them could eventually contract COVID-19.



BEARDSLEY: Emma Marcus is an American student studying in Berlin. She says her parents called her while she was out barhopping with her friends and told her to come home immediately.

EMMA MARCUS: I went back. I said bye to my friends, packed all my stuff. And seemingly, everybody had been doing the same thing. We were all on the same page of kind of like, OK, this is real. Let's try not to panic, but let's get home.

BEARDSLEY: That might prove more difficult for other Americans in Europe in the coming days as airlines cut back on flights following President Trump's announcement.

Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris.

(SOUNDBITE OF BALMORHEA'S "SKY COULD UNDRESS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.