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COVID-19: Federal Travel Restrictions and

Quarantine Measures

Updated May 28, 2020
In response to the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the federal government has
taken several actions to deter persons with potential COVID- 19 infection from entering the country. This
Legal Sidebar examines the legal authorities underlying two categories of these actions: First, restrictions
on the entry of many non-U.S. nationals (aliens) who recently have been physically present in mainland
China, Iran, much of Europe, and Brazil; and second, quarantine requirements imposed on all persons
entering the United States, regardless of citizenship status. A separate Sidebar discusses additional actions
the federal government has taken to restrict the movement of foreign nationals through ports of entry on
the land borders with Canada and Mexico.

Entry Restrictions
To deter the entry of aliens into the United States who may have been exposed to COVID- 19, President
Trump has invoked his authority over alien entry under Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality
Act (INA). That provision allows the President to suspend the entry of all aliens, or any class of aliens
whose entry he finds ... would be detrimental to the interests of the United States. Under this authority,
President Trump has issued several proclamations to restrict the entry of aliens who were recently present
in countries affected by COVID-19.
A Proclamation on January 31, 2020, generally suspended the entry of any foreign national who had been
in mainland China at some point within the prior 14 days. But lawful permanent residents (LPRs), most
immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and LPRs, and certain other groups, such as some airplane and ship
crew members, are exempt from this restriction, as are those with prior presence in Hong Kong or Macau.
On February 29, 2020, President Trump issued a second Proclamation that similarly suspends the entry of
any foreign national who has been in Iran within the prior 14 days, in addition to making minor
amendments to the earlier Proclamation. In March 2020, President Trump issued two Proclamations
imposing the same restrictions on foreign nationals who have been in the Schengen Area of the European
Union, Ireland, or the United Kingdom within the prior 14 days. On May 24, 2020, the President issued
another proclamation invoking Section 212(f) to restrict the entry of the same categories of noncitizens
from Brazil. To be clear, none of the restrictions in these proclamations applies to U.S. citizens, LPRs,

                                                               Congressional Research Service

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