World News

'It's ridiculous': Trump travel ban sows panic in European airports

MADRID/PARIS (Reuters) – Weary and confused travelers, many wearing face masks, rushed to board flights from European airports to the United States on Thursday after U.S. President Donald Trump announced sweeping travel restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus.

His 30-day travel order applies to citizens of 26 European countries but excludes Britain and Ireland as well as American citizens. It takes effect from midnight on Friday.

“It caused a mass panic,” said 20-year-old Anna Grace, a U.S. student on her first trip to Europe who changed her booking to fly home from Madrid’s Barajas airport instead of going on to France. Her friends were less successful in rebooking flights.

Though American citizens are exempt from the travel ban, Grace and many others said they preferred to return home in case the restrictions are expanded or for fear of contracting coronavirus while in Europe.

“We are nervous that we won’t be able to get back into the country,” said Atlantia resident Jay Harrison, 29, hoping to board a flight in Brussels. “If it’s going to be another 30 days and we’re stranded, it’s going to be very difficult, very expensive and just tough to get back in and tough to live with.”

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Paola Mesa, 29, a Spanish woman flying from Barcelona to San Francisco, said she backed Trump’s ban on travel from Europe.

“It’s what Spain should have done before,” she said. The death toll from coronavirus in Spain nearly doubled to 84 on Thursday and the number of cases rose to nearly 3,000.

Trump says he had to act as the European Union had failed to take adequate measures to stop the coronavirus. The EU dismissed his comments and criticized the lack of consultation from the U.S. side.


Many travelers, however, were critical of Trump’s decision.

“It’s ridiculous. Why do we impose a ban now when the virus is already in the United States?” said Leo Mota, 24, who had just arrived at Paris’s main international airport, Roissy Charles de Gaulle, from Los Angeles.

Miguel Paracuellos, a Spaniard who works in the United States, said Trump was trying to compensate for his failure to expand testing and screening programs at home. “He is blaming an external enemy, in this case Europe,” he said.

Jon Lindfors, an American traveler in Paris, was equally scathing about Trump, who will seek re-election in November.

“Trump said it’s not a health crisis but it is, that it’s not an economic crisis but it is. We don’t believe what Trump says anymore,” Lindfors said.

A Delta crew member, who asked not to be named, said Trump’s travel ban had caught the airline off-guard.

“It’s going to be a big mess… We were not expecting something like that. We don’t have all the details to know what it means for us and for the company,” the crew member said.

At Rome’s Fiumicino airport, largely empty due to draconian measures taken by Italy to combat coronavirus, one Italian traveler just back from New York said the United States would soon face the disruption Europe is now experiencing.

“(In New York)… there were only a few flights canceled or delayed… They don’t understand the situation yet,” said Giuseppe Riccio, who wore a face mask. “There are no controls in place, shops are full of people.”

Gregory and Ada Goldberg, an American couple from San Francisco, were trying to bring forward their flight home from Barcelona but were not getting much help at the airport.

“This was meant to be two weeks of pleasant vacation but it has become a nightmare,” said 69-year-old Ada.

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Finland prepares for third of country becoming ill

HELSINKI (Reuters) – Finland is recommending cancelling public meetings of more than 500 people until the end of May due to the coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Thursday, as the government prepares for the possibility of a third of Finns becoming ill.

Under Finnish legislation, Marin said the government was not able to ban all public meetings unless emergency powers were activated, meaning local authorities are in change of enforcing the recommendation.

The announcement came after country confirmed cases had jumped by 50 in a day to a total of 109, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare said, and after the Foreign Ministry recommended citizens avoid traveling anywhere in the world now.

Marin said the government had called a meeting with all parliamentary groups to discuss the circumstances of activating emergency legislation, in case it becomes necessary to impose further restrictions such as regional shutdowns, closing schools and universities or banning air and ferry traffic.

“During the first wave some 35% of Finns could fall ill and that is what we are prepared for,” Minister of Social Affairs and Health Aino-Kaisa Pekonen said.

The government also recommended any people returning from epidemic areas to stay home for 14 days to avoid spreading the infection in workplaces.

The government said Finland would grant 5 million euros ($5.6 million) to international organizations developing a vaccine for the virus.

Earlier on Thursday, healthcare authorities said a heart surgeon who had returned from a trip to Austria had been tested to have coronavirus, having exposed 28 staff members, including another 15 doctors or roughly half of the Finnish capital’s heart surgeons to the virus and sending them to home quarantine as a precaution.

In addition to healthcare staff, four patients and two of their relatives had been exposed.

The government’s recommendation to cancel public events was immediately followed by cancellations by organizers of sports events, including the Finnish Basketball Association cancelling all games at all levels until further notice.

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UK officially enters coronavirus ‘delay’ phase as Scotland bans mass gatherings

The UK has stepped up its fight against coronavirus after the government officially accepted the outbreak can no longer be contained.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the change following a COBRA meeting chaired by Boris Johnson – and revealed mass gatherings will be cancelled in Scotland from next week.

Moving into the 'delay' phase means the UK is now on its second of four phases to deal with the virus. It means officials may soon give up on tracing each patient's contact and instead focus on "social distancing".

The objective is to slow down the spread of coronavirus and reduce numbers infected at the peak after the number of UK cases soared by 134 to 590 today.

Ten people in the UK have now died from COVID-19. The latest deaths were of an 89-year-old at Charing Cross Hospital in London and a woman in her sixties at Queen's Hospital in Romford. Both had underlying health conditions.

From Friday, anyone with symptoms indicative of the virus (a dry cough and fever) should self-isolate for seven days, Ms Sturgeon announced after the meeting of the emergency committee.

Ms Sturgeon said another key focus will be to protect groups in society who are more at risk.

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"The decision has been taken that we have now moved from a contain phase, into the delay phase", she said in a press conference.

This would mean the introduction of social distancing measures such as restricting public gatherings and issuing more widespread advice to stay at home.

There is also expected to be more specific preventative advice for the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

Speaking moments before a Downing Street briefing from the Prime Minister and Chief Medical Officer, Scotland's First Minister said: "The objective is to seek to slow down the spread of the virus, to reduce the numbers… infected at any one time."

"That is clearly important in trying to alleviate the pressure that is placed at any one time on our NHS."

She added it would protect groups that are more at risk of serious complications. "The vast majority of people who get this infection will suffer mild symptoms," she added.

Ms Sturgeon said mass gatherings in Scotland will be cancelled from next week.

She said: “We have looked carefully at the situation and come to the decision today in the Scottish government that we will, from the start of next week, advise the cancellation of mass gatherings of over 500 people that have the potential to have an impact on our frontline emergency services.

“I should stay at this stage I am articulating a Scottish government position, not a UK-wide position.”

She stressed the move is not because of the risk of the virus spreading – which is not “significantly” higher in large events.

Instead she said she took the decision because of the “considerable” pressure on public services – and because it was important for public messaging about staying at home to be “consistent”.

The shift in British policy came as Donald Trump dramatically escalated the US response to the coronavirus pandemic despite having previously played down the outbreak.

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The US President slapped a 30-day travel ban on continental Europe – excluding the UK and Ireland – even though there is effectively free movement across the continent.

Mr Trump made the announcement in an Oval Office address to the nation, blaming the European Union for not acting quickly enough to address the spread of the virus and saying US clusters were "seeded" by European travellers.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has also today announced the country would go into lockdown as of 6pm – with schools, universities and public offices closing.

Dr Varadkar: "We have not witnessed a pandemic of this nature in living memory and this is uncharted territory for us."

Chancellor Rishi Sunak played down the prospect of the UK imposing similar travel restrictions, but acknowledged the US decision could have a knock-on effect on the British economy.

The Cobra meeting comes after ten people with Covid-19 were confirmed to have died in the UK, while the total number of positive cases rose to 460.

A Cabinet minister, who has not been named, was self-isolating while awaiting a test result after coming into contact with health minister Nadine Dorries.

Several other MPs were understood to be staying at home prompting alarm at Westminster, although ministers said Parliament would stay open.

The FTSE 100 index of leading London-listed companies fell more than 5% in early trading following the World Health Organisation's declaration of a pandemic.

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Experts have warned that closing schools could increase the risks for elderly grandparents and reduce the number of NHS workers available for the frontline fight against the disease.

Keith Neal, emeritus professor of the epidemiology of infectious diseases at the University of Nottingham, said it was still too early to say whether steps taken in Ireland were a "sensible precaution or an overreaction for the current stage of the epidemic".

He added: "Different countries are at different stages of the epidemic so what one country should do will not apply to others, we need to be guided by the local epidemiology and the science.

"This is why currently the UK has not followed these measures. Schools will close soon for the Easter holidays which will give some idea of the impact of this measure. Parents have already planned for childcare during these weeks.

"Closing schools has a number of known consequences. It might make the epidemic or ability to manage the consequences worse."

He said closing schools could  lead  to a reduction in the health and social care workforce as people have to look after children.

It could also  lead  to an increase in grandparents delivering childcare.

"This age group is at much greater risk," he said.

He added that closing schools may  lead  to the increased movement of children to different places across the UK.

"Children do not seem to get serious illness with Covid-19 and we do not yet know what role they play in significantly spreading the virus," he said.

"The UK should adopt UK-appropriate measures and not give in to the demand for something to be done otherwise this will result in inappropriate actions at the wrong time."

Dr Thomas House, reader in mathematical statistics at the University of Manchester, said: "Deciding when to take action such as shutting schools is difficult.

"On the one hand, it helps to contain the spread of infection, but on the other it creates wider problems in society, like missing out on education.

"And if the closure is not carefully managed then children may spend more time with, and thereby increase the infection risk of, their grandparents, who appear to be more vulnerable to complications from  coronavirus ."

On Thursday, Durham University said from March 16, all classroom teaching will end and be replaced with online lectures as much as possible for the final week of term.

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World News

UK enters delay phase over coronavirus outbreak – but schools set to stay open

The UK has moved from "contain" to the "delay" phase over the coronavirus outbreak, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced.

The announcement means Britain has now switched from trying to contain the COVID-19 outbreak to delaying its spread.

It comes following a COBRA meeting, with Boris Johnson set to hold his own press conference later today.

The move means that from tomorrow (Friday March 13) if you have symptoms of coronavirus you should stay at home for seven days and overseas school trips should not go ahead.

The move comes after teachers were told to prepare “home-learning packs” for students, amid fears schools could be closed for as much as two months.

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"The decision has been taken that we have now moved from a contain phase, into the delay phase," Sturgeon said, following a meeting of the government's emergency committee.

She added: “There will be significant changes to people’s experience.”

The move to the “delay” phase comes a day after the World Health Organisation designated COVID-19 a pandemic.

The number of cases also leapt by 74 on Wednesday to 456, with the figure expected to rise significantly in the coming days.

The UK is not yet, however, copying the drastic action in Italy, where the entire population has been quarantined and football matches played behind closed doors.

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Italy is the worst affected by COVID-19 in Europe, with more than 12,000 cases and 800 deaths.

The country is now on lockdown with events cancelled, workplaces shut and churches, museums, cinemas, theatres and schools closed.

The UK’s move to enter the delay phase comes hours after Ireland also announced the lockdown of its schools.

Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar said the measures take effect from 6pm on Thursday through until March 29.

  • Teachers prep 'learning packs' ahead of month long coronavirus school closures

He also said indoor mass gatherings of more than 100 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 500 should be cancelled.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump earlier announced he was suspending travel to the US from 26 European countries – but not the UK or Ireland.

The US president said the "strong but necessary restrictions" would come into effect on Friday, and last 30 days.

Countries across Europe are now implementing month-long emergency restrictions – including closures and cancellations – after the World Health Organisation hit out at “inaction”.

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WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said yesterday the number of cases outside China had increased 13-fold in two weeks, and that he was "deeply concerned" by "alarming levels of inaction".

Worldwide there are currently around 130,000 positive cases of coronavirus – mostly in the epicentre of the disease in China – and nearly 5,000 deaths.

Around 70,000 of the cases have recovered, according to reports, with the majority of deaths including elderly people or those with underlying health conditions.

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  • Students
  • China

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World News

BBC Weather: Europe to be scorched with temperatures to soar ‘well above seasonal average’

BBC meteorologist Stav Danaos noted heat has been a weather talking point across southwest Europe for the last few days. The temperature even reached 31 degrees celsius in Seville in Andalusia on Wednesday. Mr Danaos said that this was “well above the seasonal average” for March where we should be seeing around 22 degrees.

He told viewers: “It’s also been warm as well into southern France around the Alps.

“That’s elevated the avalanche risk, certainly across Switzerland.

“It remains high into Friday as well with plenty of sunshine here.

“The big story’s also been this unseasonably deep area of low pressure across Egypt, Cyprus, into the Levants and southern Turkey.”

Mr Danaos continued: “That’s going to continue to spin up further heavy rain and strong winds there to end the week.

“But it should ease away eastwards during the weekend.

“It stays warm across Iberia, not as hot as it has been.

“That warmth will stretch into central and southern France as well.”

He added: “Temperatures will be in the single digits though for Scandinavia.

“There’ll be some sunshine but also some snow showers around.

“Looks like it improves across the eastern Mediterranean, turns a little bit dry there.”

BBC Weather: Snow and hail to batter UK as temperatures plummet [WEATHER]
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BBC Weather: Temperatures plummet in Europe as stormy weather enters [VIDEO]

The weather presenter also said: “There’ll be lots of sunshine for Greece, the islands and southern Italy.

“For Spain and Portugal, it remains very warm indeed.

“We could see something a bit springlike and more settled in London and Paris as we head on into next week thanks to a ridge of high pressure.

“For Nicosia it turns a bit drier and sunny, a little bit warmer into the weekend.

“As that low clears away, we should see plenty of dry weather in Athens.”

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World News

COVID-19 is really messing with our music plans. Make it stop.

If things had gone according to plan, I’d have been in Singapore this week visiting my goddaughter on the occasion of her second birthday. It’s not that I’m all that worried about coming down with a case of COVID-19, but there’s always the chance of getting caught in some kind of extended quarantine because of one sick passenger or fellow hotel guest. The kid will have to wait for her present.

Two other trips have been either killed off or postponed: a music trip to Manchester and Liverpool England and another to Gdansk, Poland, where I was supposed to speak at a music conference. A few other music-related trips to LA, New York, and London are also in limbo, all because of the coronavirus pandemic.

There have been dozens of cancellations and postponements in the music world, not just out of an abundance of caution, but because everyone is afraid of being sued. No event wants to become another epicenter of the virus and thus open to legal action.

South by Southwest has all sorts of insurance, including clauses involving terrorism and mayhem (remember when that guy drove his car into a SXSW crowd back in 2014) and force majeure/acts of God calamities (a freakishly preseason tropical storm, tornadoes, earthquakes) but nothing to protect them from a disaster resulting from a virulent communicable disease.

A plague of locusts? No problem. An actual plague? That’s an issue. But the festival and the city of Austin would rather forego the US$350 million the even brings in than turn into a Texas Wuhan.

Same with Coachella and its sister country festival Stagecoach. Best postpone those until later in the year when things have hopefully settled down. The massive ULTRA EDM festival in Miami along with its Abu Dhabi version are off.

Pearl Jam didn’t want to take chances with the first leg of their Gigaton tour, which was supposed to start in Toronto this week. No Asian tours for Green Day and Avril Lavigne. Japan will have to do without Slipknot and Knotfest. The Zac Brown Band is staying off the road this spring. Hawaii will miss out on Mariah Carey. A massive K-pop festival set for LA isn’t happening. And Madonna’s Madame X tour is over.

No wonder, then, that Live Nation, the largest promoter in the world, saw its stock crash by more than 15% when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic on Wednesday.

And there’s still more. The annual National Association of Broadcasters convention in Vegas been canceled. So has the Winter Music Conference in Miami. The ASCAP Experience, an annual conference for composers scheduled for LA, has been called off. An industry event called The Worldwide Radio Summit is not gonna happen. And the list keeps growing.

There are, however, careful acts of defiance and optimism.

Even though the organizers of the Juno Awards wanted to press ahead, they decided that the risk was too great and pulled the plug on the 49th annual ceremony Thursday morning. Maybe they were spooked by the suspension of the NBA season and Tom Hanks’ admission.

Meanwhile, the SOCAN Awards, an annual event that honours Canada’s songwriters, are set for Toronto on Monday, March 30. A note to members sent out last week reads:

“We are monitoring credible sources of information regarding the COVID-19 situation. SOCAN continues to be in touch with municipal, provincial and federal authorities with regard to any impact it might have on our event. We fully anticipate presenting the SOCAN Awards as planned. We are being judicious and smart as we monitor information, and we will, of course, notify you if plans change.

“It is important to follow best practices to reduce the chances of spreading this or any other virus: wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face, and refrain from direct contact with others.

“We will remind everyone attending the SOCAN Awards to avoid handshakes, fist-bumps and hugs, as difficult as it might be, particularly on a night when there is so much to celebrate.”

The Rock&Roll Hall of Fame’s Induction Fest, the event that comes before the big ceremony is still going ahead from April 29 to May 2. The press released I received on Wednesday didn’t have a single mention of the coronavirus or what precautions will be taken.

Then there’s Canadian Music Week, a giant music conference and festival set for Toronto May 19-23. Their statement reads:

“We are paying close attention to direction from the Public Health Agency of Canada, Toronto Public Health Department, Region of Peel Public Health and the World Health Organization. Peel Public Health has assessed the public health risk associated with Coronavirus (COVID-19) and has determined the risk is low for the region including Toronto- Pearson International Airport.

“The Sheraton Centre Hotel Toronto is open and upcoming events are taking place as planned.”

“We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will advise you of any updated plans.”

Everyone is watching to see what everyone else is doing.

At this point, the Foo Fighters still plan to their their 25th anniversary world tour in Phoenix on April 12. (Some wag said to me “Maybe we can rename them the ‘Flu Fighters’ until this is over.”) And Glastonbury, the most popular music festival in the world, plans to forge ahead in June. Same with the Hella Mega Tour featuring Green Day, Fall Out Boy, and Weezer, which begins in Paris June 13. (France current bans public gatherings of over 1,000 people, so good luck with that.)

As annoying, scary, and financially devastating as everything seems, this, too, shall pass. Meanwhile, let’s wash our hands, stop touching your face, and keep a safe distances from each other. And for pity’s sake, if you think you’re sick–even if it’s just a run-of-the-mill cold, don’t be a martyr and go to work. Stay home and have some soup. Things will eventually return to normal.

Meanwhile, I have a feeling that Air Canada is going to see a serious herd cull when it comes to Aeroplan members qualifying for status this year. There will be long lines for Groups 3-6.




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World News

National Lacrosse League suspends season amid coronavirus concerns

The National Lacrosse League has suspended its season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The league tweeted Thursday morning that games are suspended until further notice.

“The National Lacrosse League has determined that it is in the best interest of our fans, our players, our coaches and our staff to temporarily suspend play until further notice due to concerns over COVID-19,” an NLL statement read.

The league said it will evaluate the situation and communicate with health officials going forward.

“Security and safety is our top priority and focus in these challenging and unprecedented times, and we will continue to provide updates on resumption and rescheduling of play as they are determined,” the league’s statement read.

The Calgary Roughnecks were scheduled to host the Saskatchewan Rush on Friday, while the Vancouver Warriors and Toronto Rock were also supposed to play at home on Friday.

On Wednesday, the NBA announced it was suspending its season after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for COVID-19. On Thursday, the NHL called for teams to cancel morning skates and meetings, while Major League Soccer announced it had suspended match play for 30 days.

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Exclusive: Sinclair Oil weighs offers for company sale: sources

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Sinclair Oil Corp, which operates two Wyoming refineries and has licensed more than 1,000 branded gasoline stations, is reviewing offers to buy the company, according to three people familiar with the matter.

A Sinclair sale could fetch between $2 billion and $3 billion, according to the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity as the talks are private.

However, many U.S. refineries are already on the block and have struggled to find buyers. The sharp drop in equity and energy prices also makes striking mergers and acquisitions deals in the current climate very difficult.

The company, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, will review initial incoming offers and will determine whether serious talks are merited, two of the sources said. A determination on the viability of the offers is expected within the month. It has retained boutique firm Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co as an advisor; neither it or Sinclair would comment for this story.

Sinclair operates an 85,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Sinclair, Wyoming and a 25,000 bpd refinery in Casper, Wyoming. The two refineries process crude from the Rocky Mountain region, while the Sinclair operation also runs Canadian crude.

The company has 1,500 branded gasoline stations across 29 states, according to its website. It is best known for its trademark green dinosaur mascot, Dino, seen on gas station signs and depicted in a balloon that has flown in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York several times.

The company also has a network of crude oil and finished-product pipelines and terminals in the Rocky Mountain and midcontinent regions.

Refiners operating in the Rocky Mountain region, such as Par Pacific (PARR.N), CVR Energy Inc (CVI.N), Delek Energy (DK.N) and HollyFrontier Corp (HFC.N), would be among the most logical buyers for Sinclair. None of those refiners immediately responded to requests for comment.

The company was founded in 1916 by Harry Sinclair.

Former Chief Executive Earl Holding consolidated the refineries and gasoline stations. Holding’s son-in-law Ross Matthews now serves as CEO, and the family still controls the company.

In addition to an outright sale, Sinclair would consider strategic options like a reverse Morris Trust, which would take the company public but allow the family to maintain a stake, according to one source.

Some assets, including the company’s hotels and ranches, would not be included in a transaction, one of the people said.

In 2012, Sinclair began licensing gas stations throughout the United States, allowing them to use Sinclair branding in markets not supplied by Sinclair fuel.

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Jacques-Cartier Bridge’s multi-purpose bike path reopens in time for spring

Spring has sprung in Montreal as the multi-purpose path on the Jacques-Cartier Bridge is once again accessible for cyclists and pedestrians.

The walkway and bike lane along the structure that connects the city to Longueuil reopened early Thursday morning.

In December, Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Inc. closed the path for the snowy and chilly months following a winter maintenance pilot project from the previous year.

At the time, the corporation found the de-icing and snow removal measures were not enough to protect pedestrians and cyclists.

However, 25 people were selected to use the path as part of a pilot project between Dec. 23 and Feb. 29.

The multi-purpose path will now remain open at all times, but it could close sometimes at night due to maintenance work or weather conditions.

“It is essential to comply with the closure notices for the multi-use path and the sidewalk for safety reasons,” the corporation said in a statement.

With files from Global News’ Brayden Jagger Haines

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Dow heads for worst day since 1987 on Europe travel shock

(Reuters) – The Dow Jones Industrials index was on course for its worst day since 1987 as President Donald Trump’s sweeping move to restrict travel from Europe added to growing signs of corporate distress in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Airline stocks .SPCOMAIR tanked 14.4%, while cruise liners plummeted between 17% and 23%, as the 30-day travel suspension from Europe worsened the outlook for a sector already reeling under business travel and holiday cancellations.

Boeing fell another 13% as J.P.Morgan abandoned its long-term buy recommendation on the planemaker’s shares, a day after the company signaled major cutbacks and drew on a large chunk of additional reserve cash.

The stock, one of Wall Street’s most influential, has lost nearly 40% this week alone and the company’s recent actions are symbolic of major U.S. corporations struggling to deal with the outbreak’s financial impact.

“When you reach full-blown panic mode, it takes a lot to rebuild confidence, and that seems to be where we are headed,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“We are expecting (an economic) downturn and there is a lot of uncertainly out there.”

Wall Street’s fear gauge jumped to its highest since November 2008, as Trump also announced several steps to help small businesses, but failed to convince traders he would be able to blunt the virus outbreak’s impact on the domestic economy.

Investors were also unnerved by the absence of targeted stimulus measures and the lack of details on a public health response after Trump made no mention of widely expected payroll tax cuts.

The MSCI world equity index .MIWD00000PUS crashed into a bear market in early trading, with all three major U.S. stock indexes now also more than 20% below their record highs hit in February. [MKTS/GLOB]

Trading on Wall Street was halted minutes after the opening bell with the S&P 500 sliding 7% and triggering a 15-minute cutout as traders fled to the perceived safety of bonds and the Japanese yen.

Worries about corporate credit are also heating up as prices of bond funds take a hit and companies start to draw on credit lines.

Bank stocks .SPXBK dropped 10.5% as Treasury yields tumbled on expectations of aggressive easing by the Federal Reserve. [US/]

At 11:48 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 2,082.63 points, or 8.84%, at 21,470.59, while the S&P 500 .SPX was down 218.65 points, or 7.98%, at 2,522.73. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 616.56 points, or 7.75%, at 7,335.49.

All the S&P sectors were trading were down at least 6%, with energy .SPNY down nearly 10%.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers almost 27-to-1 on the NYSE and 19-to-1 on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded no new 52-week high and 321 new lows, while the Nasdaq logged one new high and 1,410 new lows.

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