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President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday evening. Photo: Presidency
  • 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).
  • South Africa, India, China, France, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, and the UK have implemented the world's largest and most restrictive mass quarantines.
  • More than 18 900 people have died and close to 423 000 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.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Countries around the world are implementing measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus, from national quarantines to school closures.

The Guardian estimates that 20% of the world's population is under some form of lockdown. South Africa announced a global shutdown on Monday which will come into effect on Friday. And India just announced a 21-day lockdown that will keep its approximately 1.3 billion citizens at home.

See also: Covid-19 update: number of cases in SA jumps to 709; health minister concerned about church infections

After a surge in Covid-19 cases in Italy, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte put the entire country on lockdown on March 10, 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 63,900 people have been infected and nearly 6,070 have died in China, as of Tuesday.

India's lockdown became the largest quarantine outside of China, with 1.3 billion people confined to their homes, as of March 24. 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. (But, two months after imposing lockdown, Hubei Province has reportedly started easing its restrictions.

Monday night, the UK went into full coronavirus lockdown. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said lockdown rules would be enforced by police.

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.

The World Health Organisation, 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.


South Africa will go into a 21-day lockdown on Friday.

19-06-2019 NETWERK24 NUUS PRESIDENT RAMAPHOSA I
Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo by Gallo Images/Sowetan/Esa Alexander)

Only essential businesses will remain open, and soldiers and police will monitor the streets.

"While this measure will have a considerable impact on people's livelihoods, on the life of our society and on our economy, the human cost of delaying this action would be far, far greater," President Cyril Ramaphosa said, according to News24.

See also: You can walk your dog and jog: everything we know about the reality of SA Covid-19 shutdown

The South African government has cautioned against panic buying ahead of Friday's 21-day lockdown, as confirmed cases jump to 709, an increase of 28% in 24 hours.

See also: Pay day panic buying: Why you should stay out of the shops today.


New Zealand enacted a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all individuals entering the country. The country will go into full lockdown on Wednesday.

Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

New Zealand is to go into a month-long national lockdown on Wednesday as the number of cases in the country rose by almost 50%, the Guardian reported.

The lockdown will only be partially eased after a month if case trends slow.

"I say to all New Zealanders: the government will do all it can to protect you. Now I'm asking you to do everything you can to protect all of us. Kiwis - go home," New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, according to the Guardian.


Colombia will begin a nationwide quarantine starting Tuesday, with people over the age of 70 told to remain indoors until May.

The quarantine is expected to last 19 days, the BBC reported.

One mass breakout attempt in a Colombian prison led to the deaths of 23 inmates, as prisoners held protests over crowding and health concerns.


India will go into full coronavirus lockdown for 21 days starting on Tuesday.

The lockdown will be the largest stay at home order yet, with 1.3 billion in lockdown, CNBC reported.

"To save India and every Indian, there will be a total ban on venturing out of your homes," Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, according to CNBC.


The UK went into full coronavirus lockdown on Monday evening.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that citizens will only be allowed to leave their homes for essential work, exercise, and purchasing food or medicine. Citizens will only be allowed one form of exercise a day.

Gatherings of more than two people - excluding people who live together - will be banned, as will most ceremonies other than funerals.

"From this evening, I must give the British people a very simple instruction - you must stay at home," Johnson said.


Australia closed non-essential businesses on Monday.

The new restrictions were imposed after a national cabinet meeting, according to the BBC.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that he wanted to keep Australian schools open, but parents could keep children at home if they wanted.

"We are not putting in place lockdowns that put people in and confine them to their homes,: Morrison said. "That is not a measure that has been contemplated at this point."


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.

Soon after imposing restrictions on Wuhan, China locked down 15 other cities, including Huanggang, a city of 7.5 million people, and Suizhou, which is home to almost 11 million.

Earlier in the quarantine, some Wuhan residents faced food shortages, and grocery stores struggled 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.

On March 18, China reported no new local cases for the first time since the outbreak began. According to CNN International, China will lift the lockdown on Wuhan on April 8.


Jordan has been under a strict indefinite lockdown since Saturday morning. People caught leaving their homes are subject to up to a year in prison.

The announcement was made on Friday night and the curfew began at with air-raid sirens at 7 a.m, on Saturday, The Guardian reported.

Residents are not allowed to leave their homes, and the government is piloting a system for getting basics - like food and pharmaceuticals - starting Tuesday, according to The Guardian.


Argentina went into a "preventative and compulsory" lockdown on March 21.

Citizens are only allowed to leave their homes for essential services while police monitor the streets, the Buenos Aires Times reported.

The lockdown will go until March 31.

"We'll be absolutely inflexible in the enforcement," President Alberto Fernández said, according to the Buenos Aires Times. "This is an exceptional measure in an exceptional time, within the framework of what democracy allows."


On March 19, Israel went into partial lockdown — foreigners were already banned from entering the country.

Citizens could still leave to shop for food and medicine, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said orders could be tightened and will be regulated by police, according to Reuters.

"Under these orders, you, Israel's citizens, are required to stay at home. It is no longer a request, it is not a recommendation, it is an obligatory directive that will be enforced by enforcement authorities," Netanyahu said, according to Reuters.


Belgium went on lockdown on March 17. The government asked citizens to stay at home and limit contact to their closest family. On Sunday, the health minister said that the lockdown is likely to last eight more weeks.

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 on March 17. Many stores had already closed as an isolation measure.

Belgium's Brussels Airlines will also suspend flights from Saturday, March 21, through April 19, according to Reuters.

On Sunday, Belgian health minister Maggie De Block said the lockdown is likely to continue for at least eight more weeks, according to Reuters.


On March 16, the European Union banned non-essential travel into the region for at least 30 days.

"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 on March 13.


Germany announced a shut down of shops, churches, sports facilities, bars, and clubs in 16 states.

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.

On March 20, Bavaria became Germany's first federal state to go into full lockdown, Politico reported.


The Malaysian government announced on March 16 that all business operations will be closed except essentials like markets, utilities, broadcasting, banking, and healthcare.

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.


The Czech Republic closed most shops and restaurants for 10 days and banned foreign travel starting March 16.

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."


France closed nonessential businesses. On March 16 it implemented a full lockdown, banning public gatherings and walks outside.

President Emmanuel Macron said 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.


Morocco suspended international flights on March 15 and has closed mosques, schools, and restaurants.

After days of announcing new flight restrictions for certain countries, Morocco placed an all-out suspension on international flights to and from its airports. As the country closed its borders, The Washington Post reports that thousands of international travelers have been stranded.

The government has also arrested at least a dozen people for spreading false coronavirus news, according to US News & World Report.


On March 15, Kenya closed schools and blocked non-residents from entering the country, and has closed pubs and restaurants.

"I want to assure you that my administration is at the forefront of managing this pandemic," President Uhuru Kenyatta said, according to Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera also reported that Kenyans are being asked to maintain social distancing as the country edges towards a lockdown.


Spain became the second European country to impose a nationwide quarantine on March 14.

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."


Poland announced it would shutter businesses and prohibit international travel from March 13.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced on March 13 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.

Health minister Lukasz Szumowski said that all limitations being imposed would continue until April 11, according to The Independent.


Kuwait went into a two-week nation-wide lockdown on March 13.

The country banned all commercial flights, and prohibited citizens from going to restaurants and gyms, the New York Times reported.

It's unclear when flights will resume. The country has imposed a partial curfew from 5 p.m. to 4 a.m., according to Bloomberg.


Ireland announced on March 12 that it would impose a country-wide lockdown.

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."


Norway went into a two-week lockdown on March 12, and the government will decide whether to extend the lockdown on Tuesday.

Health minister Bent Høie said that citizens should likely not expect schools to reopen on Thursday, according to the Local Norway.

Norway had already closed ports and airports.


El Salvador's president announced an Alerta Naranja — an orange alert — on March 11.

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.

At the time of the orange alert, El Salvador had no confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

"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 March 11, according to the Post. "Our health system is not at Italy's level. It's not at South Korea's level."

As of Tuesday, El Salvador had five cases, according to John Hopkins reporting.


Denmark enacted a lockdown on March 11, which it has now extended to April 13.

Originally, the lockdown was meant to end after two weeks, the New York Times reported.

It restricts assembly of over 10 people, and closed schools, restaurants, libraries, and other businesses.


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.

Nearly 63,900 people have been infected and nearly 6,070 have died there as of Tuesday.

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 of prisoners are no longer allowed to visit, and healthcare workers were told to cancel vacations.


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; while the country is not on full lockdown, Nova Scotia has gotten into a state of emergency, Richmond News reports.
  • 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. Both Lithuania and Latvia have closed schools.
  • 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. Some tourists have found themselves under lockdown in resorts.
  • North Korea has shut down airline flights and train service with neighbouring 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, and suspended most flights to and from Europe. 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 international flights and closed mosques, schools, and restaurants; it also imposed a curfew.
  • Slovakia closed its borders to non-residents last week, and banned public events.
  • Ukraine closed its borders for foreign citizens for two weeks last week, after the first death from the virus within the country.
  • Croatia is on partial lockdown and have been told to avoid public areas, even amidst a strong earthquake, according to ABC News.

"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.

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