- The German government has partially closed its borders with France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria and Denmark
- The US Federal Reserve has slashed interest rates to a target range of 0% to 0.25% and expanded its balance sheet by $700 billion (€630.7 billion)
- Countries across Europe and Latin America are suspending public life to fight the pandemic
The mayors of New York and LA have instructed citizens to make serious cutbacks on social interactions
08:00 Germany’s border closures with France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria and Denmark have come into effect. Commuters and trucks carrying goods will still be able to pass. German citizens in those countries will still be able to return home.
According to DW’s Bernd Riegert, policemen at the border between Saarbrücken in Germany and Forbach in France are asking drivers questions such as “Where are you going?” and “what is the purpose of your visit?” The officers are not wearing face masks or other protective gear.
Many drivers told DW that, while they understand the purpose of this measure, they are still afraid to get the virus, whether on the French side of the border or the German side.
“The German administration is hoping that infection lines can be broken because of this and that social contacts are slowed down,” Riegert said. “But there are also critics that say this is not true because (the virus) is already there.”
06:34 Mexico’s health ministry has rejected media reports that the country has registered its first coronavirus death. Veteran broadcaster Joaquin Lopez-Doriga said on Twitter that businessman Jose Kuri had died after testing positive for the virus following a trip to the US. The health ministry said Kuri was still alive but in critical condition.
05:32 Australia’s main ASX 200 index fell 537.30 points to 5,002.00, a 9.7% drop. It is the largest ever percentage drop for the benchmark index. According to Reuters news agency, the Australian government is now contemplating “scaling up” its 17.6 billion-Australian-dollar ($11.4 billion, €9.8 billion) stimulus package.
05:09 The Bank of Japan unveiled a series of emergency monetary policies in an attempt to boost the world’s third largest economy amid the coronavirus outbreak. The policies include expanding purchases of stock, corporate bonds and other assets. The United States Federal Reserve announced similar measures on Thursday. The news led to a slight bump in Japan’s benchmark Nikkei index, but it still finished 2.46% lower.
04:38 Like a number of other countries and cities across the globe, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has banned gatherings of more than 500 people. Ardern said educational institutions will be exempt from the mass gathering ban for the time being.
04:27 Mexico has experienced its first death due to the new coronavirus, according to Mexican media reports.
03:59 A supermarket chain in Australia will start opening its doors exclusively to customers over 60-years-old for one hour a day. The policy is set to be implemented in an effort to ease the burden of panic-buying on the most vulnerable.
“Woolworths Supermarkets will be opening exclusively for the elderly and those with a disability to shop from 7am to 8am,” the supermarket chain said in a statement.
The policy is expected to come into effect on Tuesday and run for the rest of the week, when the idea will be reevaluated, before being possibly extended.
03:43 Las Vegas has joined a number of other cities across the United States that is imposing measures to restrict contact between citizens. Casinos and hotels, including venues on the city’s main strip, will close in an effort to prevent spread of the new coronavirus.
“It is now apparent that this is a public health crisis that requires major collective action if we are to slow its progression,” Jim Murren, chairman of MGM Resorts, said in a statement.
Accordingly, we will close all of our Las Vegas properties as of Tuesday, March 17th, for the good of our employees, guests and communities,” Murren said.
03:16 Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has mirrored his New York counterpart by instructing LA’s restaurants, bars and night clubs to close in an attempt to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.
Garcetti said: “I’m taking executive action to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in @LACity by closing bars, nightclubs, restaurants (except takeout/delivery), entertainment venues and gyms until March 31 unless extended. Grocery stores will remain open.”