MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Airline passengers arriving at Miami International Airport Friday afternoon are happy they made it back to the U.S. before airlines cut back flights due to the coronavirus European travel ban which takes effect tonight at midnight.
Some passengers at the airport were wearing masks as they tried to catch flights on Friday morning.
Many are anxious to get home.
“I’m traveling to the Turks and Caicos, that’s where I live. I want to get out of here and get back home due to all the scares of the Coronavirus,” said passenger Nikeva Ariza.
Later, parents were spotted hugging their son who was returning from Madrid.
“It just felt nice to be back in the U.S.” said Evan Gutkin.
Gutkin was in a study abroad program but arrived home a month and a half early on one of the last flights from Europe to Miami. It’s been a rough few days for his parents.
“Stressful and nerve racking. Just deciding what to do, when to pull the plug, when to bring him home,” said his dad Bradley Gutkin.
“We wanted to be on vacation until Sunday but listen we’re happy we’re here, we’re happy we got here,” said Susan Ettenheim.
The Ettenheim’s flew home two days early and cutg their trip to Spain short amid a lot of uncertainty.
“We didn’t know. No one knew. We knew as US citizens we could probably come back whenever we want, we weren’t sure if Madrid’s airport would be open of it there would be flights. So we’re lucky to get on a flight to come back,” said Steve Ettenhim.
The United States is suspending travel into the US from 26 European countries in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus.
The US ban only applies to the 26 countries in the Schengen Area free movement zone: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
The UK and Ireland are not included in the ban, despite there being COVID-19 cases in both countries.
The ban is supposed to last 30 days.
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Trump said Wednesday that there would be “exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings.”
Once the ban goes into effect, Americans flying home from the banned countries will have to be funneled through one of 13 U.S. airports with enhanced medical screening. Miami International Airport is one of those airports.
“MIA is one of the approved airports to receive flights from Europe including the 26 Schengen region airports that are flying to the U.S.” said MIA spokesman Greg Chin.
Right now there are about 16 flights a day from impacted regions of Europe to Miami. With many people banned from travel, airport officials expect a drastic drop in flights.
“We will still be receiving flights from those countries, but it will probably be at a reduced scale as you can imagine the demand is a lot less now with the COVID-19 scare,” said Chin.
Other airports include Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York (JFK or EWR), San Francisco, Seattle and Washington.