- - Thursday, March 12, 2020

Which brings us to another private sector action. President Trump has boasted repeatedly that he “stopped flights from China.” In an address to the nation Wednesday night from the Oval Office, he added that he was now banning flights from many European countries for a period of 30 days as well.

The problem is, neither boasts are really true. The United States has not banned flights from China at all. In fact, flights continue daily between cities like Los Angeles and New York and Beijing.

Instead, in late January — weeks after the COVID-19 outbreak had begun — the Trump administration announced restrictions on foreigners entering the United States who had recently been in China. That, needless to say, is not the same as banning flights from China, and that’s why Chinese airlines continue to ply the Pacific between our two countries.

It’s true that American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines have temporarily suspended their flights to China. But that, again, was simply a private sector action. The airlines saw cratering demand and took rational action.

Ditto for the new restrictions on European flights. The “flight ban” does not include Americans, nor does it slap any restrictions on the United Kingdom, which has hundreds of infections. Democrats and their allies in the media predictably lamented Mr. Trump’s “flight ban” as xenophobic and worse. But it’s neither of those things: It’s not real.

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