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As the coronavirus outbreak continues across the U.S., the White House has told federal agencies and executive departments to suspend all work travel unless it is absolutely necessary.
The White House Office of Management and Budget issued new guidance on Saturday telling federal workers that “only mission-critical travel is recommended at this time.”
The White House is also encouraging agencies to hold meetings by phone or video-conference whenever they can.
“To ensure the continued safety and well-being of our federal workforce, new guidance has been issued encouraging all agencies to consider work travel for mission critical activities only. It is imperative that the federal government continue to serve the American public in every way possible,” an OMB spokesperson said.
Agency and department heads can decide what constitutes as “mission-critical,” but the Office of Management and Budget asked decision-makers to consider if the travel can be “postponed, canceled, or handled remotely.”
The guidance for federal workers follows an announcement by the Department of Defense on Friday that it has halted domestic travel for its service members because of the coronavirus.
Earlier on Saturday, the Trump administration extended its travel ban from Europe to include the United Kingdom and Ireland. The restrictions go into effect Monday at midnight and do not apply to American citizens, legal permanent residents, their immediate families and certain others.
President Trump said on Saturday that he is also considering placing restrictions on domestic travel aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.
“If you don’t have to travel, I wouldn’t do it,” Trump said. “We want this thing to end. We don’t want a lot of people getting infected.”