- REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello
- As the coronavirus continues to spread, some countries are putting their citizens on lockdown (though that’s not a technical term used by public-health officials).
- China, Denmark, El Salvador, France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, and Spain have implemented the world’s largest and most restrictive mass quarantines.
- More than 8,700 people have died and over 212,000 have been infected by the coronavirus worldwide.
- Wuhan, China, where the virus first appeared, has been locked down for more than six weeks, and many other Chinese cities still face travel restrictions.
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Countries around the world are implementing measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus, from national quarantines to school closures.
After a surge in COVID-19 cases in Italy, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte put the entire country on lockdown last week, restricting travel, leisure, work, churchgoing, and other aspects of life for its 60 million citizens. Spain and France followed suit, ordering residents to stay in their homes. Italy has the highest coronavirus death toll in the world outside China: At least 35,700 people have been infected and nearly 3,000 have died there as of Wednesday.
France’s lockdown, announced Monday, may be the largest quarantine outside of China (the country’s population is about 67 million). Almost half of China’s population – about 780 million people – were under some kind of travel restriction as of February 17, according to an estimate by CNN.
Other countries have also closed their borders, and the EU has shut down all non-essential travel. El Salvador imposed a national quarantine on its population of 6.4 million people and banned foreigners from entering the country, despite having no confirmed cases of the virus so far.
The World Health Organization, which has officially declared the outbreak a pandemic, has called on “all countries to continue efforts that have been effective in limiting the number of cases and slowing the spread of the virus.”
While “lockdown” isn’t a technical term used by public-health officials, it can refer to anything from mandatory geographic quarantines to non-mandatory recommendations to stay at home, closures of certain types of businesses, or bans on events and gatherings, Lindsay Wiley, a health law professor at the Washington College of Law, told Vox.
Here are the countries and territories that have implemented mandatory mass quarantines and border closures so far.
China implemented the largest quarantine in human history to try to contain the coronavirus, locking down at least 16 cities at the end of January.
- Getty Images
At its peak, China’s quarantine spanned at least 20 provinces and regions, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Wuhan, where the virus first appeared, was locked down on January 23. For almost six weeks, the streets have been virtually deserted as Wuhan residents self-quarantine in their homes.
As the quarantine continues, some Wuhan residents are facing food shortages, and grocery stores are struggling to meet increased demand for home delivery.
According to WHO, China’s containment measures prevented many more cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
“There’s no question that China’s bold approach to the rapid spread of this new respiratory pathogen has changed the course of what was a rapidly escalating and continues to be a deadly epidemic,” Bruce Aylward, a Canadian doctor and epidemiologist who was recently sent to China as part of a delegation to inspect its containment efforts,told The New York Times on February 24.
One study, however, found that the travel restrictions in Wuhan only slowed domestic spread of the virus by three to five days because there were already cases in other cities at the time of the lockdown.
As China sees a drop-off in rates of new cases, the disease continues to rapidly spread in other countries.
In Italy, a nationwide lockdown went into effect on March 10 that restricts virtually all aspects of life for its 60 million citizens, including retail, leisure, worship, imprisonment, and travel.
- REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello
Nearly 3,000 people have died from the virus in Italy, and at least 35,700 have been infected there as of Wednesday.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte described the quarantine policy as “I stay home,” according to the BBC.
Large sporting events, schools and universities, museums, cultural centers, swimming pools, and spas have been shut down throughout the country. While public transportation and airports are still operating, only essential travel is allowed, and those who want to travel for valid work or family-related reasons need police permission. All stores except for grocery stores and pharmacies are closed.
Mortgage payments have also been suspended, family members if prisoners are no longer allowed to visit, and healthcare workers were told to cancel vacations.
Spain became the second European country to impose a nationwide quarantine on Saturday.
- Jon Nazca/Reuters
The Spanish government ordered its 47 million residents to stay in their homes for at least 15 days, though that period could be extended, according to The Washington Post. The order allows people to leave their homes for work, the bank, medical appointments, and to buy essentials.
Bars, restaurants, and hotels are closed across the nation.
“We have only one objective, which is to defeat the coronavirus,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said in a national address. “We are all on the same team.”
France followed suit, closing nonessential businesses over the weekend. On Monday it implemented a full lockdown, banning public gatherings and walks outside.
- Stephane Mahe/Reuters
French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that the 15-day lockdown will prohibit any public gatherings and walks outdoors. He told French residents to take public transit only if absolutely necessary and to buy only essential groceries.
Macron added that people who violate the lockdown will be punished.
“We have seen too many people in cafes and restaurants. In usual times, this would make me happy. Because this is the France we all love. But for a few weeks, this is not what we should be doing,” Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said in his announcement, according to CNN.
Ireland announced last week that it would impose a country-wide lockdown.
- Lorraine O’Sullivan/File Photo/Reuters
All schools, colleges, childcare facilities, and cultural institutions will be closed, the New York Post reported. Indoor gatherings were limited to no more than 100 people, and outdoor events to no more than 500.
“We have not witnessed a pandemic of this nature in living memory,” Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said from Washington, DC, according to the Irish Times. “This is uncharted territory.”
El Salvador’s president announced an Alerta Naranja — an orange alert — a week ago.
- REUTERS/Jose Cabezas
The orange alert measures include a national quarantine on the country’s 6.4 million citizens. Schools are closed for three weeks, and Salvadorans returning home from abroad must undergo a 30-day quarantine.
The move also bars foreigners from entering the country and bans gatherings of more than 500 people, according to The Washington Post.
El Salvador has no confirmed cases of the coronavirus so far.
“I know this will be criticized, but let’s put ourselves in Italy’s shoes. Italy wishes they could’ve done this before,” El Salvador President Nayib Bukele said in a national address on Wednesday, according to the Post. “Our health system is not at Italy’s level. It’s not at South Korea’s level.”
Belgium went on lockdown on Wednesday, through at least April 5. The government asked citizens to stay at home and limit contact to their closest family.
- Francois Lenoir/Reuters
Residents’ travel will be limited to “essential” visits to supermarkets, pharmacies, and banks or for cases of emergency, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes said at a news briefing Tuesday. Many stores had already closed as an isolation measure.
Belgium’s Brussels Airlines will also suspend flights from next Saturday, March 21, through April 19, according to Reuters.
Poland announced it would shutter businesses and prohibit international travel on Friday.
- Grzegorz Skowronek/Agencja Gazeta via Reuters
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced Friday that the country was “banning foreigners from entering the country as well as shutting all restaurants, bars, and casinos,” the Daily Mail reported.
‘The state will not abandon (its citizens),” Morawiecki said, according to The Mail. “However, in the current situation, we cannot allow ourselves to keep borders open to foreigners.”
People from abroad entering the country will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
New Zealand enacted a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all individuals entering the country.
- Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced “far-reaching and unprecedented” measures Saturday.
Everyone entering the country must isolate themselves for 14 days, she said, and no cruise ships will be allowed to dock in the country until June 30, Reuters reported.
The next day, Australia also imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine for incoming travelers.
- Loren Elliott/Reuters
The country also banned foreign cruise ships from docking in its harbors for 30 days, according to the BBC.
“We know that the virus cannot be absolutely stopped – no one can do that – but we can slow the spread,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Sunday. “And we anticipate that will be our task over the next six months.”
Australian schools remained open as of Sunday.
On Monday, the European Union banned non-essential travel into the region for at least 30 days.
- Johanna Geron/Reuters
“The less travel, the more we can contain the virus,” European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said. “We think non-essential travel should be reduced right now in order to not spread the virus further. Be it in the European Union or by leaving the European Union.”
The ban will not include the United Kingdom, which left the EU.
“Europe has now become the epicenter of the pandemic,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday.
Germany announced a shut down of shops, churches, sports facilities, bars, and clubs in 16 states.
- Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters
Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the measures were “drastic” and never-before-seen in Germany’s postwar history.
“But we have to do this right now to reduce the number of contacts and with it the number of . . . serious illnesses, and so prevent our health system coming under excessive strain,” she told reporters, according to The Financial Times.
Argentina shut down schools and public transportation, joining a slew of other governments imposing new restrictions on Sunday.
- Andres Larrovere/AFP via Getty Images
Argentina suspended domestic flights, as well as long-distance train and bus services, to combat the coronavirus outbreak, Bloomberg reported.
The country also suspended most international flights and issued a mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers.
Morocco suspended international flights on Sunday.
- Youssef Boudlal/Reuters
After days of announcing new flight restrictions for certain countries, Morocco placed an all-out suspension on international flights to and from its airports.
Kenya has closed schools and blocked non-residents from entering the country, becoming the first African nation to impose such measures.
- Baz Ratner/Reuters
“I want to assure you that my administration is at the forefront of managing this pandemic,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said, according to Al Jazeera.
Kenya had three confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Sunday.
Puerto Rico established a curfew and shuttered most businesses — some of the strictest precautions yet imposed in the US.
- Gabriella N. Baez/Reuters
Gov. Wanda Vázquez signed an executive order on Sunday instituting a 9 p.m. curfew across the island through March 30. The order also mandated that most businesses close for two weeks.
“Given that the response from some citizens has not been adequate under the emergency situation, our priority is health and to protect the life of all of us who live on this island,” Vázquez said in an address, according to The New York Times. “All citizens will have to stay home to stop the spread of this virus.”
The Czech Republic closed most shops and restaurants for 10 days and banned foreign travel starting Monday.
- David W Cerny/Reuters
Grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, post offices, gas stations, and takeaway restaurants were allowed to remain open under the new order, according to Reuters.
The country has closed schools and banned many public events.
“We need people to go to work but stay home afterwards,” Prime Minister Andrej Babis said in a press conference. “Those [countries] who have managed to do something about the situation say… limit interaction among people.”
The Malaysian government announced Monday that all business operations will be closed except essentials like markets, utilities, broadcasting, banking, and healthcare.
- Lim Huey Teng/Reuters
Malaysia has barred travel in and out of the country and shut down non-essential businesses.
The country had already canceled large gatherings and events through April.
“We cannot wait any longer until the situation becomes more acute,” Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in an address, according to Bloomberg.
Many countries have also closed borders to prevent international travelers from spreading the virus.
These countries include:
- Canada has shut its borders to anyone who isn’t a citizen, a permanent resident, or a US citizen.
- Colombia closed all of its borders, Colombian President Ivan Duque announced Monday.
- Denmark, one of the first European nations to close its borders in response to the coronavirus, has closed its borders from March 14 until April 13.
- Germany also closed its borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, and Luxembourg.
- Kuwait banned all commercial flights.
- Lithuania shut its borders on Monday to prevent nearly all foreigners from entering, and to prevent most Lithuanians from leaving the country, with the exception of business trips.
- Maldives is subjecting all passengers travelling to the country by air to a 14-day quarantine – with the exception of tourists checking in to resorts.
- North Korea has shut down airline flights and train service with neighboring countries, and established quarantines for recent travelers.
- Norway closed ports and airports starting Monday, though it left its border with Sweden open. The government did not offer a timeline for how long closures could last, but is still allowing cargo shipments and Norwegians returning from abroad.
- Peru abruptly closed its land, sea, and air borders on Sunday, after issuing a state of emergency. Some travelers got stuck as flights are canceled and airports shut down.
- Qatar stopped all incoming flights to the country and shut down shops in main commercial areas.
- Russia closed its borders with Poland and Norway on Saturday. It had already done so for China. Russia also banned foreign nationals from entering the country from March 18 to May 1.
- Saudi Arabia suspended all international flights for the next two weeks, starting Sunday.
- Slovakia closed its borders to non-residents last week.
- Ukraine closed its borders for foreign citizens for two weeks on Friday, after the first death from the virus within the country.
“We’re painfully aware that this will have severe consequences,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said during a press conference, according to Bloomberg.
“We can see how the situation in Italy developed in a catastrophic direction,” she added. “Everything we’re doing is to ensure that we get through this situation in a different way.”
Katie Warren contributed reporting.