President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday night, March 12, that his administration will ban all travel from Europe to the United States for one month, an unprecedented step to battle the coronavirus and protect Americans.

In an address to the nation from the Oval Office, President Trump said the travel ban would begin on March 13.

“To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight,” President Trump said after explaining that he had consulted with the top government health professionals.

The president said his administration decided to deliver an unprecedented response to the coronavirus outbreak after the World Health Organization officially announced it is a global pandemic on Wednesday.

“This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history,” he said, adding that the tough measures “will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens, and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus.”

The president also accused Europe of not acting quickly enough to address the “foreign virus.”

“At the very start of the outbreak, we instituted sweeping travel restrictions on China and put in place the first federally mandated quarantine in over 50 years. We declared a public health emergency and issued the highest level of travel warning on other countries as the virus spread its horrible infection,” he said.

“And taking early intense action, we have seen dramatically fewer cases of the virus in the United States than are now present in Europe,” he said. “The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hotspots.  As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe.”

“We made a lifesaving move with early action on China. Now we must take the same action with Europe. We will not delay. I will never hesitate to take any necessary steps to protect the lives, health, and safety of the American people. I will always put the wellbeing of America first.”

President Trump said the new travel restrictions will not apply to the United Kingdom, and there would be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings.

To provide financial relief for the workers impacted by the virus, the president said he is “instructing the Small Business Administration to exercise available authority to provide capital and liquidity to firms affected by the coronavirus” as well as “calling on Congress to provide Americans with immediate payroll tax relief.”

President Trump delivered the address to the nation as the number of coronavirus confirmed cases in the United States climbed to more than 1,200.