Coronavirus: World’s drastic measures against virus pandemic

Bars, restaurants and entertainment venues across New York will be ordered to shut down as part of drastic new measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made the announcement on Sunday evening (local time) after revellers across the US ignored warnings on Saturday night against attending large gatherings.

“Our lives are all changing in ways that were unimaginable just a week ago. We are taking a series of actions that we never would have taken otherwise in an effort to save the lives of loved ones and our neighbours,” he said in a statement.

“Now it is time to take yet another drastic step. The virus can spread rapidly through the close interactions New Yorkers have in restaurants, bars and places where we sit close together. We have to break that cycle.”

Mr de Blasio said from Tuesday restaurants, bars and cafes will be prohibited from having dine-in customers and will only be allowed to offer take-out and food delivery.

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From Tuesday restaurants, bars and cafes with be restricted to take away and delivery services. Picture: Jeenah Moon/Getty Images/AFP
media_cameraFrom Tuesday restaurants, bars and cafes with be restricted to take away and delivery services. Picture: Jeenah Moon/Getty Images/AFP

Nightclubs, movie theatres, small theatre houses, and concert venues must also all close.

“This is not a decision I make lightly. These places are part of the heart and soul of our city. They are part of what it means to be a New Yorker. But our city is facing an unprecedented threat, and we must respond with a wartime mentality,” the mayor said.

“We will come through this, but until we do, we must make whatever sacrifices necessary to help our fellow New Yorkers.”

Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, Washington state have also made the decision to restrict dine-in services for restaurants and bars.

More than 162,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in at least 146 countries since it emerged in December in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. COVID-19 has claimed more than 6000 lives, “a tragic milestone”, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says.

Nearly 76,000 people have recovered from the disease so far, mostly in China.

WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged countries to use aggressive measures, community mobilisation and social distancing to save lives.

“Not testing alone, not contact tracing alone, not quarantine alone, not social distancing, do it all,” he said.

“Any country that looks at the experience of other countries with large epidemics and thinks ‘that won’t happen to us’ is making a deadly mistake. It can happen to any country.

“Do not just let this fire burn.”

“Be fast. Have no regrets. You must be the first mover. The virus will always get you if you don’t move quickly. And you need to be prepared,” the WHO’s Dr Michael Ryan said in a speech over the weekend that has since gone viral.

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.


The Irish Government has ordered the closure of all pubs and bars until at least March 29 following the country’s second death from coronavirus.

Authorities made the decision after two pub industry groups “outlined the real difficulty” in carrying out guidelines on social distancing in pubs.

The Government also asked people not to hold house parties, as doing so “would put other people’s health at risk”.


French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has ordered the closure of all non-essential public locations, including restaurants, cafes, cinemas and clubs, in the wake of a 25 per cent jump in the number of France’s coronavirus cases in one day.

Mr Philippe said grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and other public services including transport would be allowed to remain open.

Previous measures, including shutting down schools, banning gatherings of more than 100 people and advising people to limit their social life, were “not well implemented”, the Prime Minister said.

“We must show all together more discipline,” he added.

French President Emmanuel Macron also asked companies to allow workers to stay home, and long-distance trains and international flights have been limited.

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Pope Francis has ventured into a deserted Rome to pray at two shrines for the end of the coronavirus pandemic as the country recorded a massive increase in deaths in a single day.

The nation’s death toll rose by 368 to 1809 on Sunday, a one-day record death toll. Italy’s total number of cases stands at 24,747.

Leaders have warned of a bed and artificial respirator shortage in the European epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic.

Milan’s Lombardy region governor Attilio Fontana said the situation in areas around Italy’s financial capital was “getting worse”.

“We are close to the point where we will no longer be able to resuscitate people because we will be out of intensive care unit beds,” Mr Fontana told Italy’s Sky TG24 channel.

“We need those machines (doctors) use to ventilate lungs, artificial respirators that unfortunately we cannot find.

“As soon as those respirators arrive from abroad, we will be ready to go on the attack.”

The governor of Venice’s Veneto region to the east also called on “everyone to remain in isolation” to avoid putting hospitals under further strain.

“If you do not follow the rules, the health system will crash and I will have to impose a curfew,” Veneto governor Luca Zaia warned.

The Vatican took the drastic step of cancelling Easter week celebrations that were set to begin on April 5 as the country of 60 million braces for an extended crisis.

Easter services will be held without the public for the first time.

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Pope Francis walks the empty Via del Corso in Rome on March 15. Picture: AFP Photo/Vatican Media
media_cameraPope Francis walks the empty Via del Corso in Rome on March 15. Picture: AFP Photo/Vatican Media


A top health official has warned that life in America will change while the country fights the coronavirus outbreak after the number of the nation’s confirmed virus cases passed 3000.

“For a while, life is not going to be the way it used to be in the United States,” director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Anthony Fauci, told CNN’s State of the Union.

“We have to just accept that if we want to do what’s best for the American public.”

At a White House briefing on Saturday, Dr Fauci said the US had not yet reached its peak in cases or deaths, as officials in each state impose a slew of new restrictions to curb the virus’ spread.

US Vice President Mike Pence said the federal government would release updated guidance tomorrow concerning restaurants, bars and other establishments, with California and Illinois already putting these actions in place.

In New York, the nation’s largest public school system will close, sending more than 1.1 million children home. The decision follows a growing number of school closures in communities and states around the country as well as mounting pressure in New York from residents, City Council members and others.

The shutdown will affect the city’s nearly 1900 public schools, with many private schools having already closed.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had been reluctant to close the school system because of the consequences for students and families. On Saturday, Mr de Blasio said keeping schools running was critical, and he worried that healthcare workers, emergency services and other needed workers would have to stay home to care for children and hundreds of thousands of poor students could go hungry without their free or reduced-price school meals.

President Donald Trump has urged the public to stop hoarding groceries, telling Americans to “take it easy” and “relax” because “it all will pass” after supermarket shelves across the country were picked bare over the weekend.

“There’s no need for anyone in the country to hoard,” he said, adding that stores were working to keep up with demand and stocking up even more than they would around Christmas time.

Public health officials have also announced that a clinical trial evaluating a vaccine designed to protect against coronavirus will begin this week on 45 young health volunteers.

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New Zealand’s tough new border restrictions have now been imposed.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Saturday that every person who entered the country would now be required to enter self-isolation for 14 days.

“I make no apologises,” Ms Ardern said at a press conference on Saturday afternoon.

“Every person entering New Zealand, including returning New Zealand citizens and residents, will be required to enter self-isolation for 14 days. Everybody.

“New Zealand will have the widest-ranging and toughest border restrictions of anyone in the world.”


Spain woke to its first day of a nationwide quarantine after the Government declared a two-week state of emergency.

Authorities imposed the special measures, including the confinement of people to their homes unless shopping for food and medicine, going to and from work, and meeting other basic needs, amid fears the country would emerge as the “next Italy”.

“This is a silent hurricane,” Madrid Vice President Ignacio Aguado said over the weekend.

“We can’t let more days go. We already know what’s going to happen tomorrow and the day after tomorrow because we have the examples of China or Italy and the contagion curve is mathematical,” he told Spanish public broadcaster, TVE.

Deaths in the nation have more than doubled in 24 hours, health authorities said, while total infections approached 8000.


Germany will partially close its borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and Denmark as it steps up efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said the new checks would take effect at 8am local time on Monday, but people who commuted across the border to work would still be able to cross, as will goods.

Mr Seehofer said people “without a valid reason to travel will no longer be allowed to enter and leave” the nation, joining Denmark, Poland and the Czech Republic who have already closed their borders.


In South Africa, a national state of disaster has been declared, leading to the closure of schools, the shutdown of ports and the banning gatherings of more than 100 people.

Citizens from high-risk virus countries, including Italy and China, are no longer allowed to enter South Africa, and those from medium-risk countries such as Portugal and Singapore will be subjected to extended screening.

Schools will be closed from March 18 and will remain closed until after the Easter weekend, and no visits to prison will be allowed for 30 days.


Austria’s chancellor has announced major restrictions on movement in public places, banning gatherings of more than five people and urging Austrians to self-isolate.

The restrictions will come into force on Monday, while restaurants will close from Tuesday when new restrictions on entering the country will also take effect.

“Austrians are being summoned to isolate themselves,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s office said in a statement. “That means only making social contact with the people with whom they live.” Gatherings of more than five people will be allowed only for activities that serve to fight the coronavirus outbreak, the chancellor’s office added.

Police will be stationed at playgrounds and outdoors from Sunday and will ask large groups to disband.

The statement said people should only leave the house for work that can’t be postponed, to buy necessary food supplies and to help others.

The western region of Tyrol, home to popular ski resorts where Austria’s first cases were reported, announced a total lockdown on Sunday, with its governor saying the region found itself in “the most difficult situation we’ve ever faced in the post-war years”.

Austria also expanded its list of countries from which it restricts entry, adding Britain, the Netherlands, Russia and Ukraine.

In an interview on Sunday evening, Mr Kurz said the government intended to bring overall air traffic to a halt but was currently maintaining minimal flight connections in order to bring Austrians abroad back home.

– with wires

Originally published as ‘Wartime mentality’: Radical virus plan

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