France and Israel have ordered the closure of businesses in a major crackdown on people in public places.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said cafes, restaurants and other non-essential businesses would be forced to close to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Spain has declared a 15-day nationwide state of total lockdown that demands residents remain in their homes unless there is an urgent reason to be outside.
Announcing the borders would be sealed, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the coronavirus crisis required “extraordinary decisions” – a perspective reinforced by bad news very close to home: his wife, Spain’s First Lady Bergona Gomez, has been diagnosed with the disease.
The latest measures come in response to fears over rising infections, as the number of people in intensive care climbs.
The closures in France do not impact essential businesses such as grocery stores, chemists, banks and petrol stations.
From Monday morning, French people will only be allowed to leave their homes to buy food and medicine, commute to work, go to hospitals and banks or take trips related to the care of the young and the elderly.
Israel will also shut malls, hotels and restaurants in a partial shutdown of its economy from Sunday while using anti-terrorism tracking technology to minimise the risk of coronavirus transmission.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that, subject to cabinet approval, anti-terrorism monitoring tools would be deployed to locate people who have been in contact with those carrying the virus.
“We will very soon begin using technology … digital means that we have been using in order to fight terrorism,” Mr Netanyahu told a news conference in Jerusalem on Saturday.
He added that he asked for Justice Ministry approval because those measures would infringe patients’ privacy.
“The enemy is invisible but we must locate it,” Netanyahu said.
#Israelis rush to #grocery stores, stocking up on food and supplies as PM #Netanyahu announces restrictions on all of Israel. #Restaurants, #malls, #cafes, gyms and all #schools will be closed as of tomorrow morning. PLEASE #PRAY. #CoronaVirusUpdates pic.twitter.com/HWhEwbTtg0
— Jerusalem Dateline (@JlemDateline) March 14, 2020
To minimise infection, malls, hotels, cafes, restaurants and theatres will shut down, employees should not go to their workplaces if not necessary, while vital services, pharmacies, supermarkets and banks will continue to operate.
France’s new measures follow concern that people were defying bans on mass gatherings and risking the lives of others.
On Saturday (local time) hundreds of protesters ignored the decree against public groups and began convening outside the Montparnasse train station, chanting anti-Macron slogans.