Coronavirus Live Updates: Public Life Curtailed as Nations Step Up Restrictions

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Credit…Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times

Countries closed borders, cities from New York and Los Angeles to Paris and Madrid closed bars and restaurants, schools closed more classrooms and hundreds of millions of people closed their doors on one another as the authorities took ever more drastic steps to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

The consequences of China’s harsh measures to halt the virus — restricting the movement of about 700 million people at one point — became apparent on Monday when the government released economic data showing industrial output falling to its lowest level in decades and unemployment rising at its highest rate ever in February.

While the economic ramifications of China’s approach are still playing out, Beijing did succeed in slowing the rise of new infections, as the total number of cases outside the country has for the first time surpassed those inside it.

The Federal Reserve, seeking to steady financial markets, cut interest rates to near zero and said it would buy hundreds of billions of dollars in U.S. government debt. But global stocks still tumbled on Monday.

As the virus continues to spread across the United States, public life is increasingly shut down. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks. And on Monday morning, officials said that guidance would be enforced in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

And as Americans are asked to isolate themselves, the United States has stepped up plans to isolate itself from the world, with travelers from Britain and Ireland on Monday joining the list of other European countries barred from entering the country.

But even as a patchwork of new restrictions were put in place across the country — with different states and localities charting their own course — there was growing concern that hospitals could soon be overwhelmed.

“We have an impending catastrophe when this wave of growth crashes on the hospital system,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said in an appearance on CNN on Monday.

Within Europe, countries are closing themselves off. The Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia have all closed themselves off to foreigners. And Germany, the economic engine of the Continent, said that it would partly close its borders with five neighboring countries.

Still, the number of new cases across the Continent continues to surge, and there is growing worry that the health care systems of Spain and France could soon face the kind of dire situation playing out in Italy — where doctors have had to make grim decisions about which patients to treat.

There is a scramble across the Continent to step up production of ventilators, with leaders calling for the kind of effort seen in wartime to produce munitions.

The Spanish government warned on Monday that it would probably extend the state of emergency and keep people indoors beyond the initial period of 15 days.

Jérôme Salomon, a top official at the French health ministry, said the situation was “deteriorating very quickly.” He told France Inter radio on Monday that many people did not seem to be taking calls for social distancing seriously, and he tried to dispel the notion that the virus seriously threatens only the elderly. There are 300 to 400 people in intensive care in France, he said, and roughly half of them are under age 65.

Stocks on Wall Street plunged on Monday, following global markets downward after an extraordinary move by the Federal Reserve failed to prevent further panic.

Trading was halted after U.S. stocks dropped 8 percent at the open.

Investors were also confronted with weak economic readings out of China and the United States, the world’s largest economies. Chinese officials reported that retail sales, manufacturing activity and investment in the first two months of the year had slumped even more than economists expected, and a gauge of manufacturing activity in New York State collapsed by the most ever in a month.

“Unfortunately this is the new reality,” wrote economic analysts with the investment bank Jefferies in New York. “This report is a harbinger of what is to come.”

European markets also tumbled on Monday, falling more than 6 percent. France’s main stock index briefly fell 10 percent.

An emergency interest rate cut by the Fed on Sunday underscored its deepening worry that the pandemic is severely depressing revenue for industries around the world while consumers hunker down, raising the risk of a worldwide recession. The central bank cut interest rates to near zero and said it would buy hundreds of billions of dollars in government debt, moves reminiscent of its actions during the 2008 financial.

Those moves were intended to ensure that credit flows freely, spurring businesses and households to continue borrowing and spending. But markets appeared to absorb the action as the latest indication that the world had arrived at a dangerous place — a clear sign that they should dump risky assets like stocks and seek refuge in government bonds.

With a growing chorus of public officials across the United States warning that the nation’s health care infrastructure could buckle under the pressure of a large surge in coronavirus patients, states and localities issued more restrictions on public life and urged all Americans to take personal responsibility to stop the spread of the virus.

For many students, parents and teachers, it was the first Monday without a regular school week, and the number of families affected continued to grow. New York City, the largest district in the nation, with 1.1 million students, was set to shut down, and Massachusetts moved to close schools across the state beginning Tuesday.

Officials took some of their most aggressive steps yet to stop the spread of the virus, shutting restaurants and bars in New York City, Los Angeles, Massachusetts, Ohio, Washington State and Puerto Rico, with the exception of takeout or delivery in some places.

The move will close bars in New York City, Boston and California, among other places, for the St. Patrick’s Day holiday on Tuesday, which is typically one of their busiest days of the year.

Movie theaters, theaters and gyms were also closing. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom called for people 65 and older to shelter in their homes.

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States climbed to over 3,600 across 49 states on Monday. West Virginia is the only state without a documented case of the virus.

In California, Governor Newsom also issued guidelines calling for the closing of all bars, night clubs and wineries. He said that restaurants could remain open, but they must reduce their occupancy by half to allow for more “social distancing” among diners.

And movie theaters and gyms were closed in Los Angeles by its mayor, Eric Garcetti, who also said on Sunday evening that he was temporarily closing bars, nightclubs and restaurants except for takeout and delivery.

As Italian doctors and health care workers struggled to cope with surging demand from critically ill patients and the death toll in the country rose above 1,800, Spanish and French officials worried that their own health care systems could soon be overwhelmed and set about imposing ever tighter restrictions on the movement of their citizens.

Jérôme Salomon, a top official in France’s health ministry, said on Monday that the situation in France was “deteriorating very quickly.”

About 300 to 400 people infected with the virus in the country are in critical condition, he said, and about half of those patients are under 65 years old.

“We are seeing that the number of cases is doubling every three days,” Mr. Salomon told France Inter radio.

France announced the closing of all “non-indispensable” businesses, including restaurants, bars and movie theaters, after a sharp rise in coronavirus cases. The number of French cases has passed 5,400, with 127 deaths.

In Spain, residents were ordered to confine themselves to their homes — and to leave only to buy food, go to work, seek medical care or assist older people and others in need. All schools, restaurants and bars in the country were ordered to close.

Yet José Luis Ábalos, Spain’s transportation minister, warned on Monday that the lockdown may not have a significant or immediate impact.

Spain — with about 8,000 cases and about 300 deaths — now has the highest number of cases in Europe after Italy. The government ordered medical students, private hospitals and factories producing medical equipment to help boost the resources of the public health system.

As other countries in Europe saw their own numbers surge, many sought to seal themselves off from one another. Germany was the latest country to significantly curtail entry of foreigners, effectively closing its land borders.

Switzerland also ratcheted up its response after recording 840 new cases of infection on Sunday, a rise that brought the national total to 2,200. The Swiss authorities have barred people entering from Italy unless they live or work in Switzerland, and the interior minister said checks were likely to follow at all national borders.

New York City is closing down the nation’s largest school system and said that all bars and restaurants would close, limiting those outlets to takeout and food delivery.

And Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called for the Army Corps of Engineers to expand hospital capacity to deal with a surge in patients and keep the health care system from being overwhelmed. On Monday, Mr. Cuomo said that he was coordinating with his counterparts in New Jersey and Connecticut to make sure that restrictions across the three states — including those on gatherings of 50 or more people — were in harmony.

The measures by New York City — the most aggressive and disruptive efforts so far to stem the spread of the coronavirus — were announced after local authorities came under intense scrutiny for a limited response.

“I’m very, very concerned that we see a rapid spread of this disease, and it’s time to take more dramatic measures,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Sunday afternoon. “This is a decision I have taken with no joy and a lot of pain.”

The city’s schools will be closed on Monday for all students and employees, but teachers will be asked to report to work later in the week for training on how to provide remote learning, Mr. de Blasio said, adding that his goal was to reopen all schools on April 20.

Some locations will reopen on March 23 as “enrichment centers,” set up to provide instruction and services for vulnerable children, including homeless students and children with special needs. But Mr. de Blasio said there was a strong chance that schools would not reopen at all this school year.

Later on Sunday, he ordered that all restaurants bars and cafes limit their operations to food take out and delivery. Nightclubs, movie theaters and concert venues will also close starting on Tuesday.

Across the Hudson River in Hoboken, N.J., that city has also introduced severe restrictions, including a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning Monday. All bars and restaurants will be limited to takeout and delivery services.

.All public and private schools in Nassau County, which includes some of the most densely populated areas of Long Island, are closed starting Monday, and New Jersey’s governor said on Sunday that a statewide school shutdown was “imminent.”

In Connecticut, all public schools will shut down on Tuesday and remain closed until at least March 31.

President Trump planned to spend Monday consulting with leaders around the world and throughout the United States as stock markets collapsed and his administration considered further measures to limit social interaction.

Mr. Trump has calls scheduled with fellow Group of 7 leaders at 10 a.m. Eastern and with the nation’s governors at 11:30 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence said on Sunday that the administration would probably announce more guidelines at Monday’s daily White House coronavirus briefing. That briefing, originally scheduled for 10:30 a.m., has been moved to 3:30 p.m.

The deliberations at the White House came as the Senate prepared to take up a bipartisan coronavirus aid measure brokered by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. It has already been approved by the House.

Federal workers were supposed to report to work on Monday even as other employers in the nation’s capital shuttered their doors.

The impact of the coronavirus continued to be seen throughout Washington on Monday, including at the White House, where for the first time all people entering had their temperatures taken before being allowed in.

The first lady, Melania Trump, said that the annual Easter egg roll was canceled.

British officials are expected to announce measures this week to combat the coronavirus, as cases rose to 1,543, up from 299 cases a week earlier. The government has been criticized by scientists, public health officials and citizens for mixed messaging about what measures will be taken.

The government is holding an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss its next moves and whether to adopt some of the more stringent regulations being put in place across the Continent.

It is likely to release advice on social distancing, including measures that will ask people over 70 to remain in their homes, according to government ministers who spoke about the issue over the weekend.

Matt Hancock, Britain’s health secretary, told the BBC that every person over 70 in the country would be instructed “within the coming weeks” to self-isolate at home for an extended period. He did not provide a time frame, but said it could be for “a very long time.”

The government also said it planned to hold daily televised news conferences, delivered by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and senior ministers, to update the public starting on Monday afternoon.

Downing Street also said Mr. Johnson would speak with British manufacturers to seek support in producing essential medical equipment, including ventilators that are vital in treating severe coronavirus cases.

Schools, malls, restaurants and workplaces were shuttered and flights were suspended across the Middle East as several countries moved aggressively to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

In Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Kuwait, daily life was a whisper of its usual self.

Saudi Arabia sent government workers at all but a few essential agencies home for 16 days. Government employees in Kuwait are being sent home for two weeks. And the Lebanese government declared a state of health emergency, telling people to stay home unless absolutely necessary, an order that was being breached left and right in Beirut on Monday in the absence of enforcement.

Bahrain announced its first death from the coronavirus, and in Iran — where reports of infected senior officials, cabinet ministers and lawmakers have taken on a numbing regularity in recent weeks — a 78-year-old member of the Assembly of Experts died. The Assembly is the clerical body that selects the country’s supreme leader.

Iran has suffered more coronavirus deaths than any country other than China and Italy, with 129 more reported on Monday. Official news agencies said President Hassan Rouhani had announced plans for public screenings around the country starting Tuesday, but did not specify how the testing would be done.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s annual Persian New Year speech at a shrine in the city of Mashad was called off ahead of the holiday on Friday, and Iranians looked set to celebrate Nowruz quietly at home, with officials urging people to avoid gatherings and stop visiting relatives.

Wealthy Gulf countries are offering some relief to businesses hit by the emergency, though the budgets of oil producers like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will suffer from falling oil prices.

Saudi Arabia announced a stimulus package of $13 billion to help small and medium-sized businesses, while the Emirates said it would inject $27 billion into the economy. Qatar said it would provide economic relief and exempt some businesses from water and electricity bills.

Senators were returning to Washington on Monday facing growing pressure to take up a sweeping relief package intended to help people affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The House, which left for a weeklong recess after approving the package early Saturday, is expected to quickly approve technical changes to the package on Monday. That action does not require the presence of lawmakers.

But senators — nearly half of whom are 65 or older, a population that public health officials consider at the highest risk of becoming seriously sick if infected with the coronavirus — are on commercial flights back to the capital.

It is unclear how quickly the Senate will take up the relief bill, despite overwhelming bipartisan support for it in the House and an endorsement from President Trump.

Multiple senators have voiced concerns with the scope of the legislation — particularly its provisions for paid sick leave — and Senator Mitch McConnell said on Sunday that members of his conference were “carefully reviewing the details and are eager to act swiftly.”

He gave no indication of a timeline.

Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, told Fox News on Monday, “I don’t think the House bill is going to pass the Senate as it’s written, for one basic problem: It doesn’t go far enough and it doesn’t go fast enough.”

Lawmakers in both parties and both chambers are discussing another economic stimulus package to respond to the pandemic.

As the coronavirus epidemic continues to surge worldwide, there are now more total confirmed cases outside China than inside China, the country where the virus first spread, according to numbers released Monday.

Statistics released by China’s National Health Commission showed that by Sunday the country had recorded 80,680 infections.

The total for the rest of the world — everywhere outside mainland China — exceeded 85,000, according to figures tabulated by Johns Hopkins University. Italy, in particular, has recorded a grim rise in infections and deaths in recent days, and said that total cases in the country are near 25,000.

Since January, China has imposed sweeping restrictions on travel, commerce and transport, especially in Hubei Province, where the outbreak began. The country’s top leader, Xi Jinping, has trumpeted his efforts to bring the epidemic under control.

Fatalities from the virus outside China are also approaching the number recorded there since January. By Sunday, China’s official death toll had reached 3,213. More than three quarters of those occurred in Wuhan, the provincial capital of Hubei, where the outbreak has struck hardest. To date, more than 3,100 have died outside China.

As the outbreak expands outside, the authorities took measures on Monday to further protect Beijing, the capital. All travelers to the city will undergo a 14-day quarantine at sites designated by the government. Previously, arriving travelers were allowed to self-isolate at home.

Other places including Anhui Province, Inner Mongolia and the city of Sanya on Hainan Island announced similar quarantine measures.

Also on Monday, Jack Ma, China’s richest man, said he had donated surgical masks and testing kits to the United States, just weeks after China desperately imported medical equipment from around the world to handle its outbreak.

“All the best to our friends in America,” Mr. Ma, the founder of the e-commerce giant Alibaba, said on Twitter on Monday.

Reporting was contributed by Peter Baker, Katie Robertson, Michael Cooper, Karen Weise, Reid J. Epstein, Katie Glueck, Shane Goldmacher, Jeanna Smialek, Neil Irwin, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Safak Timur, Emmet Lindner, Marc Santora, Megan Specia, Aurelien Breeden, Raphael Minder, Melissa Eddy and Tiffany May.

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