DONALD Trump pledged a temporary ban on immigration to the United States because of the “invisible enemy” of coronavirus, as the disease sparked angry demonstrations on American streets to demand an end to crippling lockdowns.
In just four months, the virus has turned the world upside down, confining half the planet indoors and killing nearly 170,000 on its march through virtually every country.
Drastic measures never before seen in peacetime have shredded the global economy, resulting in the extraordinary spectacle of oil prices turning negative as demand evaporates.
World leaders are agonising over when to loosen restrictions, terrified of a second wave but aware their citizens need to work and live amid growing signs of social tension.
US President Trump, who has encouraged anti-lockdown protests roiling parts of the country, said Monday he would halt immigration — a theme long popular with his supporters.
“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!” he tweeted.
At least 22 million jobs have been lost in the US since sweeping lockdowns were implemented to slow the spread of the virus, and exasperation is growing in some parts of the country.
Rise of COVID-19 deaths
Hundreds took part in a “Patriots Rally” in Pennsylvania, one waving a banner proclaiming “Give me liberty or give me death.”
Rose Bayer, 50, said it was “crazy” to shut down the world over a disease she said has a recovery rate of about 98 percent.
“People will starve, they’ll commit suicide, they’ll lose everything over this. The cure — like Trump said — the cure cannot be worse than the disease,” she said.
While such demos have captured much attention, more than four in five Americans would approve of a national stay-at-home order, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll.
But isolated protests are also springing up elsewhere from Russia to France, where demonstrators in a run-down northern Paris suburb clashed with police they accuse of enforcing lockdown rules too harshly.
– ‘Like a war situation’ –
In hard-hit Europe, several countries are cautiously creeping out from confinement measures, buoyed by mounting signs the worst of the virus may be behind them.
Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Germany was “still a long way from being out of the woods,” as she allowed smaller shops from florists to fashion stores to reopen.
President Trump, who has encouraged anti-lockdown protests roiling parts of the country, said he would halt immigration — a theme long popular with his supporters.
There were also encouraging signs in other major European countries such as Italy, France and Britain, although authorities warned citizens against letting their guard down.