WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
The 30-day ban starts Friday at midnight and covers the 26 European countries in the Schengen Area: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, and excludes the United Kingdom and Ireland.
"This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history," Trump said in an address to the nation. "I am confident by counting and continuing to take these measures we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus."
His announcement came hours after the World Health Organization classified the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic.
"We made a lifesaving move with early action on China. Now we must take the same action with Europe," Trump said.
Trump later tweeted that trade will not be affected by the ban.
"There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screening," Trump added.
A European diplomat told Reuters that the White House did not notify European officials before the televised address. Shortly after Trump made the announcement, Saudi Arabia announced that it would ban travel to and from the European Union.
The decision comes as COVID-19 has spread extensively across the continent, including Italy where the entire country was in quarantine by mid-March and all non-essential businesses besides grocery stores and pharmacies were closed.
More than 1,200 cases of COVID-19 had been diagnosed in the U.S.
Fox News' Edmund DeMarche contributed to this report.