A total of 1,800 flights were grounded and cancelled in the US and Canada on Friday, a day after President Donald Trump ordered a nationwide travel ban on travel to the US, Canada and Mexico.
In total, the US suspended more than 300 flights, including nearly half a dozen that were scheduled to fly out of New York and Chicago, as well as a number of smaller ones, according to a statement from the US Department of Homeland Security.
The travel ban was widely seen as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 17,000 people since it began on December 7.
But the ban has been met with criticism from many US citizens and travellers, including a number that have had to cancel their travel plans in the past few days.
In a tweet, the White House said it was suspending flights to the seven countries to give people a “chance to make decisions on how to travel”.
However, the order also imposed a restriction on travel from the rest of the US to the United Kingdom, which is still allowed to land flights in and out of the country.
“The President’s order is not intended to be a blanket travel ban.
However, it is intended to provide the opportunity for those with valid visas to leave the country and return to their countries of origin, to ensure that our Nation remains safe and secure,” a statement on the White the WhiteHouse said.
As of Friday evening, the Trump administration had not confirmed the number of US citizens affected by the order.
The US has been under an international lockdown for nearly a week after the virus first broke out.
The country had not seen any confirmed cases of coronaviruses since January, and the virus is usually curable with regular vaccinations.
However since January 28, there have been six confirmed cases and two deaths.