Chaos ensued at some of America's biggest airports as the US government rushed on March 13 to implement President Trump's restrictions on travel from Europe.
Passengers on US flights from Europe have been waiting for hours to go through enhanced health screening after Italy, France and Spain announced countrywide restrictions in a bid to contain the spread of the pandemic, The New York Times reported.
Passengers coming from the continet describe long crowded waits and confusion at US airports.
In Dallas, travelers posted photos on Twitter of long, winding lines in the airport. In New York, customs agents in paper and plastic masks boarded a flight from Paris. And in Chicago, where travelers reported standing in line for hours, Gov JB Pritzker of Illinois tagged Trump in a series of angry tweets about the long waits, saying, "The federal government needs to get its s@#t together. NOW."
Paige Hardy, an American student who left behind her graduate studies in London because she feared a broader travel ban, said a series of confusing announcements in the air and upon landing in Dallas led to alarm on the plane late Saturday. She posted a video on Twitter of travelers being asked to raise their hands if they had been in mainland Europe. Because of the delay, she also missed her connecting flight.
"It truly felt like an apocalyptic scenario," said Ms Hardy, who left many of her belongings behind in England and was unsure if she would be able to return.
The confusion came as concern spread about the coronavirus pandemic, which has now been identified in more than 2,700 people in the United States and has prompted Trump to declare a national emergency.
"At this time, we are working quickly with our partners to operationalize a plan which will outline where these travelers will be routed and what the screening process will be," Marcus Hubbard, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said.
The Department of Homeland Security referred an interview request about Saturday's delays to US Customs and Border Protection, whose officials did not immediately respond. Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, said on Twitter that he was aware of the delays and was working to add staffing.
Spain, France and Italy have gone under lockdown to contain the coronavirus outbreak.