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Responses to the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic in March 2020

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This article documents the chronology of the response to the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, which originated in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Some developments may become known or fully understood only in retrospect. Reporting on this outbreak began in December 2019.

Reactions and measures in mainland China

2 March

Wuhan closed its first makeshift hospital, one of the 16 built to contain the epidemic after the last person was discharged. This came as the number of new cases declined.[1]

3 March

Quarantine staff screening passengers on a plane after landing in Shenzhen, Guangdong

Shanghai and Guangdong province will quarantine travellers arriving from coronavirus-hit countries for 14 days.[2]

7 March

The Xinjia Express Hotel in Quanzhou City, Fujian Province, China collapsed while containing dozens of close contacts of people with coronavirus.[3] 29 people died as a result.[4][5]

9 March

11 out of 16 makeshift hospitals set up in Wuhan were closed after discharging their last person, with the most recent being a converted sports centre and a factory. This comes as the number of cases continued to drop.[6]

10 March

Chinese Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping visits Wuhan and issues a statement claiming that COVID-19 has been eradicated in Wuhan and Hubei province.[7]

11 March

Hubei's provincial government announces that businesses related to epidemic control, public utilities and daily necessities are allowed to resume work now. Other businesses will be allowed to resume work on 20 March.[8]

12 March

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian alleges that the US military had brought the virus to Wuhan in a controversial Tweet.[9][10]

14 March

  • In response to a rise in imported cases, Beijing authorities announced that everyone arriving from overseas will be quarantined for 14 days.[11]

16 March

The Chinese National Bureau of Statistics releases figures showing that industrial output fell 13.5%, fixed asset investment fell 24.5%, private sector investment fell 26.4%, and retail sales shrank 20.5% in January–February 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.[12]

22 March

In response to a rise in imported cases, the Civil Aviation Administration of China decided to divert international flights bound for Beijing to 12 designated airports for quarantine.[13]

23 March

Passengers wearing surgical masks on a train of Line 4, Beijing Subway during the work resumption period

Wuhan eases its two-month lockdown on residents including allowing those from compounds deemed virus-free to leave their homes and return to work, if they did not have a temperature and could provide a green code of health. Non-residents were allowed to apply to leave the city. Resumption of train services.[14]

24 March

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang reports that the spread of domestically transmitted cases has been basically blocked and the outbreak has been controlled in China.[15]

25 March

Hubei's Health Commission eliminates all travel restrictions in and out of the province with the exception of Wuhan.[16][17]

27 March

In response to a rise in imported cases, the Chinese Government announces that it will close China's borders to foreigners starting on 28 March in an effort to stop imported cases of the coronavirus from entering China. The ban also includes foreigners with visas and residency permits. Other measures include restricting both Chinese and foreign airlines to a single route and destination a week.[18][19][20]

28 March

Clashes break out on a bridge connecting Hubei and the neighboring Jiangxi province when Hubei travelers attempted to storm a Jiangxi checkpoint. This clash was the result of a disagreement between police from both provinces over how to verify people from Hubei allowed to enter Jiangxi. In response, provincial authorities have announced that checkpoints will be removed and no special documentation would be needed to cross.[21]

29 March

According to a Guardian report, Western and African expatriates have encountered increased racial hostility and discrimination in response to a shift in recent cases reported in China from local to "imported" ones. Hostility towards foreigners have taken the form of being denied entry to restaurants, shops, gyms, and hotels, being subjected to further screening, and verbal abuse and ostracism.[22]

30 March

Beijing medical team aiding Hubei returned to Beijing on 31 March 2020, with their flight receiving water salute at Beijing Capital International Airport[23]

Chinese Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping announces that the Government will introduce measures to help small and medium-sized enterprises affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.[24]

Reactions and measures outside mainland China

Infections per capita

Running summary (as of 31 March 2020): The virus has spread to much of the globe, and there are at least 730,000 cases confirmed with more than 36,000 deaths. By the end of March, only the following countries and territories have not reported any cases of SARS-CoV-2 infections:

Africa

  • Ascension Island
  • Comoros
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Sahrawi Republic
  • Saint Helena
  • São Tomé and Príncipe
  • Somaliland
  • South Sudan
  • Tristan da Cunha

Asia

  • Christmas Island
  • Cocos (Keeling) Islands
  • North Korea
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkmenistan
  • Yemen

Europe

  • Abkhazia
  • Artsakh
  • South Ossetia
  • Svalbard

North America and the Caribbean

  • Bonaire
  • Saba
  • Saint Pierre and Miquelon

Oceania

  • American Samoa
  • Cook Islands
  • Kiribati
  • Marshall Islands
  • Micronesia
  • Nauru
  • Niue
  • Norfolk Island
  • Palau
  • Pitcairn Islands
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tokelau
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • Vanuatu
  • Wallis and Futuna

South America

  • Falkland Islands

Strict surveillance measures are being enforced at airports, seaports and border crossings to prevent the disease wide-spreading into countries/territories which either share a border with or are located in the neighborhood of Mainland China. Accordingly, some countries are thermally monitoring passengers arriving at their major international airports, while flights to and from infected countries have ceased operating. More seriously, countries such as North Korea and Papua New Guinea have banned travelers from all Asian countries.

Land and sea borders are being closed over the fears of the virus. For example, Hong Kong, Mongolia, North Korea, and Russia have closed their borders with Mainland China, while Papua New Guinea closed its land border with Indonesia. Singapore has closed its borders to all recent travelers of China.

Visas have also been suspended for some countries. Vietnam ceased issuing visas to Chinese citizens, excepting diplomatic work. Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and the Philippines also suspended visa issuances: on arrival with Chinese citizens, toward the entire infected area of China and toward Hubei-related visitors who previously had travel history or currently hold a passport issued by Hubei and its neighborhood's authorities.

Evacuations of each country's citizens have been done and most of them are repatriated and quarantined for at least 14 days. Travel restrictions and advisories have been issued, mainly to East Asian and European countries.

The pandemic has caused lockdowns in some places, such as Wuhan of China, Daegu of South Korea, Luzon of the Philippines, Italy, Denmark, France, Malaysia, Czech Republic, Spain, and India. Public or mass gatherings are prohibited or restricted, including schools and workplaces. A lot of concerts and sport events are canceled.

1 March

Authorities in South Korea advised people to stay indoors and not attend any events. In addition, the school break was extended by one week across the country, and three weeks in Daegu.[25]

Seoul authorities have filed a complaint to prosecutors, asking them to charge the leader of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, Lee Man-hee and 11 others for murder and obstructing efforts to contain the coronavirus.[26]

In the United States, the American Physical Society cancelled its annual meeting, which was to be held in Denver, Colorado from 2 to 6 March.[27]

In Japan, one of Sharp Corporation's LCD panel factories will turn some of its production capacity to surgical masks. At end of March it will produce 150,000 masks a day, eventually rising to 500,000 a day. Other Japanese mask makers have increased their production 5-fold, rising from 20 million, to 100 million masks per week, combined.[28][29][30]

2 March

Swiss poster explaining the rules of hygiene and good reactions in case of symptoms (in German, 2 March 2020)

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control announced that it has increased the risk level from moderate to high for people in the European Union.[31]

In the United States, several schools were closed in the state of Washington due to the rise of coronavirus cases.[32]

The United Kingdom calls an emergency meeting on the virus, as cases there increased by 12.[33]

The Lower House of the Polish Parliament passed a bill on special measures regarding the spread of the new coronavirus.[34]

The leader of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, Lee Man-hee, apologised for its role in the outbreak.[35]

New Zealand extended travel restrictions on Iran and China by seven days. In addition, travellers arriving from northern Italy and South Korea will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.[36]

The Badminton World Federation announced it has postponed the Portugal International tournament, originally scheduled to be held from 5 to 8 March.[37]

3 March

South Korean president Moon Jae-in declared war on the epidemic, with more hospital beds and face masks to be made available. More than 30 trillion won will be injected into the economy for support, and government agencies will operate round the clock.[38]

South Korean CDC officials approve the first test completed by a Korean life science company and approve another test the following day.[39]

Indonesia plans to build a hospital in Galang Island to treat people with the coronavirus .[40]

Singapore will ban visitors arriving from South Korea, Iran and northern Italy from 4 March, with Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders returning from these places to be issued Stay-Home Notices (SHN) lasting 14 days. In addition, all travellers entering Singapore with fever or signs of respiratory illness will be required to undergo swab tests, with penalties for refusal. The travel advisory is expanded to include Iran, northern Italy, Japan and South Korea.[41]

India suspended all visas belonging to citizens of Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan immediately, along with travellers who went to these places. Authorities advised against non-essential travel to China, Iran, Italy and South Korea, along with medical screening for travellers arriving from 14 places.[42]

Iran has temporarily released more than 54,000 prisoners due to the spread of the new coronavirus in crowded jails.[43] Iran has also announced plans to mobilise 300,000 soldiers and volunteers against the outbreak.[44]

Hong Kong arranged four chartered flights to evacuate 533 Hong Kong residents stuck in Hubei province.[45]

The World Health Organization (WHO) director general has stated that the latest global death rate of the new coronavirus outbreak is far higher than seasonal flu, 3.4% and much less than 1% respectively.[46]

France has closed about 120 schools in virus-hit areas having the highest number of infections, with more expected to shut in the coming days. Schools in Oise will remain shut until further notice, while schools in Morbihan will remain shut until 14 March.[47]

Australia will use a little-known biosecurity law (the Biosecurity Act 2015[48]) to restrict the movements of those suspected to have the coronavirus, which since its enactment had only been used for agricultural purposes. This came after cases of community transmission were confirmed there.[49]

Italy announced that it may set up quarantine red zones to contain the spread of the virus. As a result of the outbreak, a wine fair has been cancelled.[50]

4 March

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the creation of a new cabinet committee to manage "the federal response to the coronavirus disease."[51]

The Malaysian state of Sarawak bans entry by travelers who had visited Italy, Iran, South Korea, and China in the last 14 days.[52]

The Portuguese Parliament is due to discuss the outbreak on 4 March, as the Portuguese prime minister António Costa will open the biweekly debate on the theme of "the prevention and containment of the COVID-19 epidemic".[53]

Thailand has advised travelers arriving from nine countries to self-quarantine and register their addresses. They are Singapore, China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Germany, France, Italy, and Iran. The authorities later clarified that quarantine is not compulsory until a high-risk list of countries is finalized.[54]

Iraq has since shut schools, universities, cinemas, cafes and other public places, which will reopen on 7 March. In addition, authorities have banned mass prayers including on Fridays until further notice.[55]

French cycling team Cofidis are placed under quarantine in the UAE, lasting until 14 March. This comes after several staff members tested positive for the coronavirus, leading to the cancellation of the UAE Tour.[56]

The Tokyo government urged residents to refrain from joining in cherry blossom parties in parks in view of the coronavirus.[57]

Russia banned exports of hazmat suits, masks, and respirators among a list of 17 items to ensure that medics can access these items to treat people. The decree, which was published today, started two days ago and will expire on 1 June. The ban does not cover exports for humanitarian and personal purposes.[58]

The Australian Football League has moved a game between St Kilda Saints and Port Adelaide Power, originally scheduled on 31 May in Jiangwan Stadium in Shanghai, China to Docklands Stadium in Melbourne, Australia, to be played on 7 June instead.[59]

The Louvre, a museum in France, reopened after a three-day strike by staff concerned over the coronavirus.[60]

Italy will close schools and universities until 15 March to contain the virus, with crowd control measures instituted.[61] At the same time, Serie A matches could be played without spectators in a bid to stop the virus.[62]

Workers in the UK who self-isolate will get statutory sick pay from the first day since being off work.[63]

UK-based regional airline Flybe collapsed at 10pm GMT and was sent into administration, risking the possible closure of several local airports throughout the UK.

Saudi Arabia suspended the umrah pilgrimage temporarily for citizens and residents there owing to the coronavirus. It also disallowed visits to the mosque in Medina.[64]

Japan said that the torch relay for the 2020 Olympics could be adjusted to prevent the spread of the virus.[65]

Malaysia suspended all autogate and e-gates systems at all checkpoints to deal with the virus.[66]

In Hong Kong, small business owners started a petition for the government to provide them with HK$6 billion in aid, as they had trouble staying open. The government began to use female prison inmates to produce 180,000 surgical masks per month.[67][68][69]

Emirates removed its charges for changing flight bookings.[70]

5 March

South Korea extends a daycare closure across the whole country for two more weeks.[71] On the same day, a new 'special care zone' was declared in Gyeongsan after a spike in cases there.[72]

Australia banned travelers arriving from South Korea, as well as from mainland China and Iran. Enhanced screening will be conducted on travelers arriving from Italy.[73]

The Rome Marathon, scheduled for 29 March, was cancelled.[74]

The Paris Marathon, scheduled for 5 April, was postponed until October 2020.[75]

Indonesia will ban travelers arriving from the worst-affected regions of Iran, Italy and South Korea from 8 March. Indonesians who arrive from these places will undergo a health examination.[76]

The Catholic Church of Singapore will resume services on 14 March with precautions in place.[77]

6 March

Russia isolated 700 people in St. Petersburg, including many students, due to contact with an Italian student who had been diagnosed the day before.[78]

Bhutan banned all tourists from arriving in the country for two weeks with immediate effect. This comes after its first confirmed case. Schools will also be closed for two weeks in the Dzongkhags of Thimphu, Paro and Punakha, and international conferences and seminars are postponed.[79][80]

After India confirmed its 31st case, India ordered all international passengers to be screened upon entry to the country.[81]

Samsung Electronics moved all of its phone production from Gumi, South Korea to a factory in Vietnam, as production was constantly being stopped and six workers at the Gumi factory had already contracted the virus.[82][83][84]

In Panama, the Health Ministry (Minsa) enabled a hotline (169) to allow people who potentially has coronavirus to consult a doctor. On the same day, it was announced that over 800 people are under medical surveillance, and 30 people had tested negative for the virus. The Minsa also advised against using a surgical mask, as it could cause paranoia within society. Panama has also further enhanced its screening measures at all points of entry.[85][86][87][88]

In the US, several states introduced measures that order health insurance to not charge people usual fees (co-payment, co-insurance) associated with COVID-19 related healthcare visit or COVID-19 laboratory tests.[89] Several events were cancelled too. In Austin, Texas, the major music and media festival SXSW has been cancelled for the first time in its 34-year history, a local disaster having been declared despite there being no coronavirus cases in the city itself.[90] In Seattle, Washington, the Emerald City Comic Con has been cancelled and postponed until summer.[91] Furthermore, DC Comics cancelled all March convention events,[92] and several Jewish institutions in New York City, most notably Yeshiva University, either closed or took other prophylactic measures.[93] Miku Expo's North American tour dates have also been postponed.[94]

TwitchCon Europe 2020, scheduled to take place in Amsterdam from 2–3 May 2020 was announced to be cancelled as a precautionary measure.[95]

Vis Moot competition, scheduled for April 2020 in Vienna, was cancelled and moved to an online platform.[96]

The three-day International Indian Film Academy Awards (IIFA) (dubbed Bollywood's Oscars), supposed to be held from 27 to 29 March, has been delayed due to fears of the coronavirus.[97]

7 March

The International Ice Hockey Federation cancelled the Women's World Championship, scheduled from 31 March to 10 April in Canada, due to concerns about the coronavirus.[98]

In Singapore, the People's Association suspends activities and classes and activities attended by confirmed cases for 14 days, as well as all singing classes.[99]

8 March

Organizers of the Bahrain Grand Prix, which is the second round of the 2020 Formula One World Championship, decided to hold the 2020 event without any spectators permitted.[100]

Italy placed more than 16 million people under quarantine in Lombardy and 14 other central and northern provinces, together with closure of schools, gyms, museums, nightclubs and other venues across the country.[101][102]

The President of Portugal canceled all his public activities and will stay at home in a self-imposed quarantine after receiving a group of students from a school which has since been closed following the detection of a student with COVID-19.[103]

France banned gatherings of over 1000 people in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.[104]

All schools and universities in Saudi Arabia have been closed until further notice to control the spread of the virus.[105]

Qatar bans passagers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, South Korea, Thailand, Nepal, Egypt, China, Syria and India amid fears of spread of the virus.[106]

9 March

Italy imposes a country-wide quarantine, restricting travel except for necessity, work, and health circumstances. As a result, people flocked to the supermarkets and prison riots erupted.[107]

Romania bans the flights to and from Italy until 23 March.[108] In addition, all schools in Romania are closed from 11 to 22 March.[109]

Seychelles announced a temporary closing for cruise ships.[110]

Stock markets crash worldwide in reaction to the coronavirus outbreak and falling oil prices.[111]

The BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament, originally scheduled to take place in March in Indian Wells, California, United States, was cancelled after a confirmed case is reported in the local area.[112]

In Panama, the Panama Metro began to clean its trains more frequently, using different disinfectants. The Minsa also announced that 1,073 people are under medical surveillance.[113][114]

Re:ZERO Season 2 was delayed [115]

10 March

Mongolia put multiple cities, including its capital Ulaanbaatar, under quarantine until 16 March after the country's first case was confirmed.[116]

The Malaysian state of Sabah bans travellers from Iran and Italy from entering. The ban applies to all foreign travellers who have travelled to Iran and Italy within the last 14 days including Malaysians who are non-residents of Sabah.[117]

All primary and secondary schools in the Czech Republic were closed.[118]

In Greece, all primary and secondary schools, universities and cram schools (known in Greece as frontistirio) were closed for two weeks, starting from 11 March until 24 March. Because 25 March is the national holiday for the Greek War of Independence, schools will reopen on 26 March. These preventive measures were taken in order to limit the spread of coronavirus in Greece. However, according to the Greek minister of education, Niki Kerameus, the school year may be extended if the measures for the closure of all schools get extended.[119] Additionally, the Greek ministry of education prepared a plan to cover up for the lost school days. Among others, this plan includes an extension of the school year, a reduction of the school lessons' duration in 35 minutes in order to increase the teaching hours each day, reduction of Easter holidays, distance learning and cuts on the curriculum.[120] Furthermore, the postponement of university entrance exams from June to July or September is also considered, while the military and student parades across Greece on 25 March were cancelled.[121]

Panama suspended the school year in Panama City, and activities involving large amounts of people until 7 April. The school year suspension in other parts of the country was set to last until 20 March, but it was later extended to 7 April. The Minsa also announced that 66 people were under medical surveillance.[122][123][124]

RuPaul's DragCon LA 2020, which supposed to take place on 1 to 3 May in Los Angeles has been cancelled.[125][126] The fate of RuPaul's DragCon in NYC and UK is currently unknown.

Polish archbishop, the President of the Polish Episcopal Conference said that Polish churches should increase the number of masses, so that fewer people will attend at once.[127]

The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (Also known as Rojava), closed a border crossing underneath its control with neighboring Iraq. The Administration also released a statement asking European journalists following the Syrian Civil War not to visit parts of Syria underneath its control, and that medical checks would be done at all crossings into their territory in response to the Coronavirus.[128]

Singapore's Ministry of Health announced a suspension of activities for seniors from 11 March for 14 days. This comes after many people went out while unwell. In addition, social distancing will be implemented for other activities. Senior care services will continue running with additional precautions.[129]

11 March

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a CA$1,000,000,000 COVID-19 Response Fund that includes a $50 million contribution to the World Health Organization and an additional $275 million to fund coronavirus research in Canada.[130][131]

All schools and universities in Poland were closed for two weeks.[132]

The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic after cases outside China increased 13-fold over the past two weeks.[133][134]

The Prime Minister of Denmark announced that all schools, universities and kindergartens will be shut down for two weeks.[135]

In the United States, the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced that both its Division I Men's Basketball Tournament and Women's Basketball Tournament, scheduled from mid-March to early April, will be held without any spectators in attendance.[136] Boise, Idaho's popular Treefort Music Fest was postponed until 23 to 27 September.[137][137] The 2020 Electronic Entertainment Expo was canceled. [138][139]

The U.S. and Canada's National Basketball Association announced that it will suspend the remainder of its 2020 season after players tested positive for the disease.[140]

U.S. President Donald Trump announced that all travel from Europe (except UK) into the United States will be suspended for 30 days.[141]

India will suspend visas for travellers, including visa-free travel from 13 March until 15 April, except those on diplomatic, official, employment and project visas. Even travellers allowed to enter will be subject to quarantine orders.[142]

Israel bans gatherings exceeding 100 people after a spike in cases. Schools will continue to remain open, with universities and other higher learning institutes urged to explore distance learning in case of closure. In addition, companies are asked to let employees work from home.[143]

The Institut Pasteur de Dakar and DiaTropix team up with Mologic, a British biotech firm, to develop "point of need" test kits that can diagnose COVID-19 in 10 minutes.[144]

12 March

Stock markets worldwide suffer their greatest single-day fall since the 1987 crash in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the previous day's announcement of the 30-day travel ban between the U.S. and Europe.[145]

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau begins a self-quarantine for 14 days after his wife Sophie Trudeau tests positive for the virus.[146]

Israel and Sri Lanka close schools early from 13 March, with term holidays lasting until 20 April to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Schools are also asked to refrain from planning excursions during this period.[147]

Singapore closes mosques for five days starting from 13 March for cleaning as a precaution against the coronavirus with prayers cancelled for that day. In addition, activities at the mosques will be stopped until 27 March. This comes after two people were infected from a gathering in Malaysia.[148] Separately, the Catholic Church of Singapore will continue suspending services indefinitely after the World Health Organization declares the coronavirus a pandemic, rescinding an initial plan to resume services on 14 March.[149]

The Osim Sundown Marathon, supposed to be held on 23 May in Singapore, has been cancelled due to the coronavirus, with runners having direct entry to next year's event. Several other runs have also been postponed too.[150]

The suspension of Cortes Generales, Spain's Parliament, will be extended by 15 days due to the coronavirus.[151]

Turkey closes all primary, secondary and high schools for a week, and universities for three weeks starting from 16 March. All sports matches will be played without spectators until end of April. Students will continue education from their homes via internet and TV channels from 23 March for a week.[152]

Following the National Basketball Association's suspension of its season one day earlier, other major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada and sporting organizers do the same. The National Hockey League indefinitely pauses the remainder of its 2020 season,[153] while Major League Soccer imposes a 30-day suspension on its 2020 season.[154] Major League Baseball cancels the remainder of its spring training and delays the start of its 2020 season for at least two weeks.[155] The National Collegiate Athletic Association, which had previously announced that all of its winter championship events, including its Division I Men's Basketball Tournament and Women's Basketball Tournament, would be played with no spectators, cancels all championship events until the 2020–21 season.[156] The Professional Golfers' Association of America cancels the Players Championship and other upcoming golf events.[157]

The World Health Organization says that the COVID-19 pandemic can be controlled as long as countries take the pandemic seriously. This comes after some countries did not take adequate measures to slow transmission, and also after WHO denied the outbreak was a pandemic.[158][159]

Before midnight, the Government of Estonia declared an emergency situation to last until 1 May. Special measures announced for the duration of the emergency situation include a prohibition of all public gatherings, concerts, performances, conferences, sport events, regular study in all schools and universities (remote forms of study are allowed), closure of museums, cinemas; introduction of border checks; and visitation limits to hospitals, social service centres and prisons.[160]

As a result of a McLaren team member testing positive, the entire McLaren team pulled out of the 2020 Australian Grand Prix.[161]

Euroleague Basketball announces all leagues suspension including the Euroleague and the Eurocup until an unknown date.

The 2020 Summer Olympics torch relay began in Olympia, Greece, in a scaled-down ceremony without spectators. It was the first Olympic flame lighting ceremony to be held without public attendance since 1984.[162]

Several theme parks in the United States have closed due to the coronavirus. In Orlando, Florida, SeaWorld Orlando, Disney World, Disney Cruise Lines, and Universal Orlando Resort have closed. In California, Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood have closed too. Separately, Disneyland also closed its Disneyland Paris park in France.[163][164]

13 March

With a member of the McLaren team testing positive the day before, and the team withdrawing from the race, F1 and the FIA decided to cancel the opening round of the 2020 Formula One World Championship, the Australian Grand Prix.[165] Later, it was announced that the next two rounds, to be held in Bahrain and Vietnam, would be postponed.[166]

The Auckland Council canceled the annual Pasifika Festival in Auckland in response to health concerns about the coronavirus.[167][168]

Cricket Australia announced that the three-match series against New Zealand would go ahead, but that fans would not be admitted into the venue.[169]

The Czech Republic announced a complete travel ban effective midnight on 16 March, banning all foreigners from entering and Czech nationals and long-term resident foreigners from leaving the country. The lockdown will be effective for the duration of the 30-day state of emergency declared on 12 March.[170]

Singapore banned travellers from France, Germany and Spain, and places citizens and residents from affected countries under quarantine for 14 days.[171]

Switzerland issued sweeping restrictions on places of public gatherings, closing schools throughout the country and imposing a ban on public gatherings of more than 100 people until 30 April.[172] This is implemented by most cantons as a closure of cinemas, theaters, museums, youth centers, sports centers, fitness centers, swimming pools, wellness centers, discos, pianos-bars, night clubs, and erotic clubs.[173]

U.S. President Donald Trump declared a national state of emergency, allocating about US$50 billion of U.S. federal government money for relief efforts. In response, US stock market Dow Jones Industrial Average posted its largest single-day gain since October 2008.[174][175]

In the UK, the Premier League, along with the English Football League and FA Women's Super League, suspended their respective seasons until April after both Arsenal F.C. manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea F.C. player Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for the disease.[176]

Apple Inc. announced that their annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) will be held as an online-only conference for the first time as a precaution.[177] They later announced the closure of all Apple Stores outside of Greater China until 27 March. Further, a commitment of US$15 million towards the COVID-19 response was announced.[178]

Australia's chief medical officer advised the government to ban mass gatherings of more than 500 people to stop the coronavirus.[179]

In Panama, businesses began to impose and enforce limits on how many food and personal hygiene items a customer may buy at a time.[180]

14 March

The New Zealand Government cancelled the Christchurch mosque shootings memorial service scheduled to be held at Christchurch's Horncastle Arena on 15 March due to COVID-19 concerns.[181] Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that anyone entering New Zealand from midnight on 15 March would have to isolate themselves for 14 days. Cruise ships will be barred from entering New Zealand from midnight 14 March until 30 June. In addition, anyone with coronavirus symptoms will not be allowed to enter the Pacific Islands and those who have been traveling overseas will have to wait for 14 days before traveling to the Pacific.[182][183]

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin ordered the cancellation or postponement of all public gatherings including international meetings, sport, social and religious events until 30 April due to COVID-19 concerns.[184][185] The Prime Minister also announced that the Government would be evacuating 65 Malaysians in Iran and 323 in Italy in humanitarian missions.[186]

The US State of Georgia announced they would move their primary election for president from 24 March to 19 May, becoming the second state to do so after Louisiana.[187]

US President Donald Trump had his physician release a memo which suggested he tested negative for the virus.[188]

Panama banned all flights from and to Europe and Asia for 30 days. The Panamanian government also began to regulate activities involving over 50 people.[189][190]

15 March

All schools in Banten province of Indonesia are closed until 28 March. This comes after the Governor of Banten Wahidin Halim declared the virus an "extraordinary event". Other provinces such as Jakarta, Central Java, West Kalimantan, and West Java also did the same thing.[191]

Brunei banned all citizens and foreign residents from leaving in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Ministry of Health has also banned mass gatherings including weddings and sporting events. In addition the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam, the Tutong District Amateur Football Association League, and the Brunei Basketball Association have suspended all matches and games.[192]

Finland has ceased testing for people returning from trips abroad, and all of the people suffering flu symptoms in the country. The tests are now reserved for health professionals only.[193]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed a SAARC fund called SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund to tackle coronavirus via video conference. He proposed setting up a volunteer basis COVID-19 emergency fund with India committing USD 10 million initially for it.[194][195][196]

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act and declared measures to be put in place that comprised imposing a travel ban on foreign nationals from high risk countries, including Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, and China; performing high-intensity screening on travellers from medium-risk countries, such as Portugal, Hong Kong, and Singapore, as well as testing and isolation for South African citizens returning from high-risk countries; closing 35 of the 72 land, sea, and air ports of entry; the prohibition of gatherings of more than 100 people; the closing schools from 18 March 2020 until mid April 2020; and the suspension of visits to correctional centres (prisons and rehabitiation facilities) for 30 days.[197]

The Panamanian government began to enforce the temporary closure of all businesses where large (over 50) numbers of people may gather, including pubs, cinemas, grills, casinos, gyms, convention centers and stadiums. Supermarkets may only have up to 50 customers inside at any given time, with ingress being regulated. Activities (like parties and weddings) are banned from having over 50 people present at any given time, and violations are punishable with forceful termination of the activity and a fine. The government also banned people from visiting beaches and other similar places (like large rivers).[198][199]

16 March

The Australian Border Force suspends the removal operations of New Zealand citizens to New Zealand up to 30 March, effective midnight 16 March.[200]

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces restrictions to entry into Canada, allowing only Canadian and American citizens, permanent residents, closest family of citizens, diplomats, and air crew. Any Canada-bound passengers showing symptoms of COVID-19 would be refused boarding.[201] Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe announces the closure of all primary and secondary schools in the province effective 20 March.[202]

Costa Rican Health Minister Daniel Salas confirmed 41 cases of coronavirus. The government also decreed a state of national emergency. Classes were suspended in all public and private schools and colleges until 4 April. Borders would be closed starting Wednesday, 18 March and last until 12 April, Costa Ricans and permanent residents have no entry restriction. Those entering must remain in quarantine for at least 14 days.[203]

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei announced Guatemala will close its borders for two weeks as part of measures to contain the virus.[204]

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin bans Malaysian citizens from going overseas and foreigners from entering Malaysia from 18 to 31 March. Malaysians returning from overseas will have to go through health checks and a 14-day self-quarantine.[205]

Pink Dot SG, an event in support of the LGBT community in Singapore supposed to be held on 27 June, is cancelled due coronavirus pandemic, the first time it did so. In its place will be a livestreaming session where people can tune in.[206]

US President Donald J. Trump refers to COVID-19 as the "Chinese virus," drawing allegations of racism from Chinese and WHO officials.[207][208]

17 March

New Zealand Health Minister David Clark announced that New Zealand Government will deport foreign tourists who flout government requirements to self-quarantine for two weeks.[209] Later, Immigration New Zealand detained two foreign tourists for refusing to comply with self-quarantine requirements.[210][211] That same day, Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced a NZ$12.1 billion Covid-19 coronavirus business package to aid businesses, beneficiaries, and health services affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.[212][213][214]

Jon Landau, the co-producer of the Avatar film sequels, announced that film production at the New Zealand–based Stone Street Studios had been suspended in response to the coronavirus outbreak. However, filming will continue in Los Angeles.[215]

Panama banned all non-resident foreigners from entering the country. Panamanian authorities also began to use the #QUEDATEENCASA (#STAYATHOME) hashtag on social media in an attempt to convince people to stay at home in self-quarantine.[216]

The UEFA announced the upcoming Euro 2020 will be postponed to June 11 to July 11, 2021, marking the first time in the 60-year history of UEFA championship that has ever been postponed.[217]

18 March

The Eurovision Song Contest, planned to be held in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, was cancelled.[218]

The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) urged all New Zealanders traveling overseas to return home in response to the spread of the coronavirus.[219]

The New Zealand and Australian Governments canceled Anzac Day services scheduled to be held at Gallipoli in Turkey in response to travel restrictions and the coronavirus outbreak.[220][221]

After cases increased quickly, Singapore announced that Stay-Home Notices will apply to all travellers arriving into Singapore from 20 March. Travellers are also advised to delay travel plans, with more social distancing measures soon.[222]

Panama imposed a nationwide curfew, effective everyday from 9pm to 5pm of the next day. The curfew can be enforced with everyone, regardless of age, race, etc. It was imposed to prevent the spread of the virus. Panamanian president Nito Cortizo ordered the construction of a modular hospital, similar to China's purpose built hospitals, to be completed within a month. Panama also closed its land border with Costa Rica, and began to operate a Whatsapp number to allow people to consult a doctor. Panamanian authorities later began to explore the possibility of a mandatory nationwide quarantine, and allowing only one person per household to buy groceries and pharmaceuticals.[223][224][225][226][227]

The United Kingdom announced that all schools, colleges and nurseries would be closed from 21 March until further notice - with the exception for children of "key workers" and vulnerable children - and that A Level and GCSE examinations in May and June would be cancelled in England and Wales.[228]

19 March

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australia would be closing its borders to all non-residents and non-Australian citizens from 9pm on 20 March.[229][230]

The Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association canceled all Anzac Day services, scheduled for 25 April.[231] New Zealand Health Minister David Clark advised the cancellation of mass indoor events with more than 100 people with the exception of workplaces, schools, supermarkets and public transport.[232][233] Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern closed New Zealand's border to non-citizens and non-residents with the exception of Samoan and Tongan citizens traveling to New Zealand for essential reasons, "essential health workers" and those seeking to enter the country for humanitarian reasons.[234][235]

Argentine President Alberto Fernández announced a mandatory quarantine, in effect from midnight on 20 March until 31 March.[236]

Playboy magazine ceases print production in part to disruptions in its supply chain.[237][238] The mayor of Boise, Idaho, Lauren McLean, orders the closure of all restaurants and bars (with the exception of those with take-out, delivery, or drive-thru options) for 30 days effective as of 12:01 a.m. Friday.[239][240]

20 March

The Auckland Council closes all public libraries, swimming pools, and recreational centres in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city.[241][242] The University of Auckland and Massey University suspend classes in order minimise face-to-face contact.[243]

In Panama, the government announced the banning of all international passenger flights to and from Panama effective 22 March, for 30 days. Copa Airlines announced a temporary cease of operations, also effective 22 March for 30 days. The government also announced the forceful temporary closure of all businesses, with the exception of those working on the food, pharmaceutical, health, banking, construction, logistics, telecommunications, transport, agroindustrial, animal feed, security and other related industries, as well as supermarkets, convenience stores, lawyers, veterinary clinics, call centers, funeral homes and laundromats. Restaurants may only serve take-out, drive-thru or delivery orders. Church services involving over 50 people were also suspended. The national lottery also suspended its draws. The government established several "epidemiological fences" to prevent unauthorized persons from spreading the virus to the areas protected by the fences.[244][245][246][247][248][249]

The Dominican government began to enforce a curfew, similar to Panama's curfew, but effective from 8 PM to 6 AM of the next day, until April 3.[250]

After mid-March 2020, the Federal government made a major move to use the US military to initiate and lead an effort to rapidly grow Covid-19 intensive care facilities nationwide. The US Army Corps of Engineers, under existing statutory authority that comes from authorizations and powers of FEMA, will be rapidly leasing a large number of buildings across the US in hotels and in larger open buildings to immediately grow the number of rooms and beds with ICU capability for patients of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. A public briefing of the plan was given by Army General Todd Semonite on 20 March 2020. The Corps of Engineers will handle leasing and engineering, with contracts for rapid facility modification and setup issued to local contractors. The plan envisions that the operation of the facilities and the provision of medical staff would be entirely handled by the various US States rather the Federal government.[251]

21 March

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern introduces a four-level COVID-19 alert system. New Zealand is currently on Level 2 where people over the age of 70 or with compromised immune systems are encouraged to stay at home, and all non-essential domestic travel to be curtailed.[252][253] Several local body councils around New Zealand in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Lower Hutt and Porirua closed public facilities including swimming pools, libraries, recreation centres, community centres, art galleries, and museums.[254][255]

In Australia, a human biosecurity emergency was declared by the federal government under the Biosecurity Act 2015, after a National Security Committee meeting the previous day with state and territory governments.[48] The Department of Health had earlier devoted a web page to the pandemic,[256] as had the states.[257]

Global streaming services Netflix and YouTube reduce their video quality in the European Union to help prevent Internet gridlock as tens of millions of Europeans work at home or self-isolate.[258][259][260]

Disney will close the Aulani resort in Hawaii from 24 March until the end of the month to protect against the coronavirus.[261]

22 March

The Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee have called for the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, warning that they will not send athletes if the Games go ahead on 24 July.[262]

India observed a 14-hour long curfew both to try and combat the coronavirus pandemic and assess the country's ability to fight the virus.[263]

Singapore banned all travellers starting from 23 March, 11:59 p.m. This comes after a spike in imported cases of COVID-19. Only people working in essential services like healthcare services and transport will be allowed into Singapore during this time. In addition, the Singapore-Malaysia Special Working Committee have agreed to have Malaysians with work permits to continue working in Singapore. Discussions are ongoing.[264]

The British television channel ITV suspends production of several television programmes including Coronation Street, Emmerdale, and the talk show Loose Women.[265]

A stimulus vote in the United States to lessen the coronavirus impact fails to pass after falling short of the required votes. This comes after several Democrats voted against the bill due to insufficient worker protections.[266]

23 March

In response to a spike in cases, the New Zealand Government has raised the national COVID-19 alert level to three in preparation for a nationwide lockdown that will come into effect midnight 26 March. As part of the nationwide lockdown that will come into effect on 26 March, the COVID-19 alert level will be raised to four. Schools, all indoor and outdoor events, most businesses, and cafes will be required to shut down. However, essential services such as supermarkets, petrol stations, and health services will remain open.[267][268][269] The Government also released a list of "essential services" that will would be allowed to operate during the four-week lockdown.[270]

Singapore announced that all arriving travellers will be required to fill up online health declaration forms before undergoing immigration clearance from 27 March as a protection measure against the coronavirus.[271]

Former American film producer and convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein tests positive for the coronavirus.[272][273]

24 March

The International Olympic Committee, International Paralympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee announce that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games will be postponed to a date beyond 2020 but no later than summer 2021. Marking the first time in the 124-year history of the Olympic Games that has ever been postponed, rather than cancelled.[274][275]

The New Zealand Government has extended all temporary visas until late September 2020; allowing travelers whose visas expire before 1 April to remain if they are unable to leave the country. Foreign Minister Winston Peters has urged New Zealanders stranded overseas to consider sheltering "in place" due to travel restrictions. Peters has estimated there were 80,000 New Zealanders stranded overseas; 17,000 of whom have registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's "Safe Travel" programme.[276]

On 24 March, Poland's government announced further restrictions on people leaving their homes and on public gatherings to further limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infections. The new limits constrained gatherings by default to a maximum of two people (with an exception for families); an exception for religious gatherings, such as mass in the Catholic Church, funerals and marriages in which five participants and the person conducting the ceremony were allowed to gather; and an exception for work places. Non-essential travel was prohibited, with the exception of travelling to work or home, SARS-CoV-2 control related activities, or "necessary everyday activities". Everyday activities qualifying as "necessary" included shopping, buying medicines, visiting doctors, walking dogs, jogging, cycling and walking, provided that no more than two people participate and contact with others was avoided. The restrictions were initially defined for the period from 25 March to 11 April inclusive.[277]

India's prime minister Narendra Modi announced a total lockdown, effective from midnight on 25 March.[278]

Panama extended its curfew to 12 hours in length, starting at 5 PM and ending at 5 AM of the next day. The Panamanian government also announced fines of up to US$100,000 for those who refuse to stay in self-quarantine, after being diagnosed. Several businesses began to cover their glass windows with playwood panels and/or bricks to prevent looting. The first of several Lufthansa 747-400s landed in the Tocumen International Airport, to repatriate 700 German tourists.[279][280][281][282] Later in the day, the Panamanian government established a nationwide lockdown until further notice, with citizens only allowed to go outside for 3 hours a day, with the allowed exit time depending on their last ID or passport number digit. So, for example, if one's ID number ends in 7, that person will be allowed to go outside at 6:30 AM, and will have to return home at 9:30 AM. Citizens over 60 will only be allowed to be outside from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM.[283][284] The government also announced a 50% discount on power bills for those who consume less than 300 Kw/h, and announced a 3-month grace period for users who are unable to pay their power, internet and water bills.

The 2020 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony was posponed for November 2020.[285]

25 March

In response to a sharp spike in coronavirus cases to 205, New Zealand's Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare declared a national state of emergency lasting seven days, which may be extended. This supplements the Coronavirus alert level 4 rating that comes into action at 11:59 pm.[286][287]

Diamond Comics Distributors, a major distributor for most major US publishers including Marvel Comics and DC Comics, announces that it will stop shipping new comics to stores commencing 1 April. Diamond's sister company Alliance Game Distributors also adopted a similar policy, shutting down both its distribution systems the previous day.[288]

Charles, Prince of Wales, heir apparent to the British throne, tests positive for the Covid-19 virus.[289]

Egypt begins disinfection on the Giza pyramid complex.[290]

26 March

A European Commission summit is held, during which the heads of government of Spain, Italy and other European Union countries argue for the issuance of joint debt to help their economies recover from the crisis (dubbed "corona bonds"), which is opposed by Germany and the Netherlands.[291][292]

India announces a 1.7 trillion INR economic stimulus plan to help millions of people affected by a nationwide lockdown. The Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman also confirmed that the Indian Government plans to distribute five kilograms of staple food grains like wheat or rice for each person free of charge in order to feed about 800 million poor people over the next three months.[293]

Russia halts all international air traffic with the exception of flights repatriating Russian citizens back to the country. Moscow closes all restaurants, bars, parks, and shops but allows grocery stores and pharmacies to remain open.[293]

Panama began to limit the number of people that may attend a funeral. Now only five attendees will be allowed per funeral. The Panama Metro closed some of its stations, due to a reduction in ridership. [294][295]

The United States Senate passes a US$2.2 trillion emergency relief package, which is to date the biggest rescue deal in US history.[293] US President Trump pledges that the United States would cooperate with China in combating the Covid-19 pandemic, signalling a fresh détente between Washington and Beijing after weeks of rising tensions.[296] That same day, following a video call summit with other G20 leaders, Trump stated that the US was cooperating with international allies to stop the spread of the coronavirus and to increase information sharing.[297]

The United Arab Emirates imposes night curfew and begins disinfection across streets.[298]

27 March

In Colombia, President Iván Duque announced the extension of the national quarantine in April. [299]

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announces the RM 250 billion Prihatin stimulus package to help people, businesses and the economy to weather the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.[300] The Prihatin stimulus package consists of RM128 billion for welfare assistance, RM100 billion to support small and medium businesses, RM2 billion to strengthen the country's economy, and a RM20 billion stimulus package that was announced previously.[301]

Japan's professional basketball league B.League cancels the remainder of the season in response to the coronavirus pandemic.[302]

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive for COVID-19.[303]

Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology began to replace the defective test kits it had sent to Spain. [304]

The United States House of Representatives pass the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act via voice vote, and was signed by Donald Trump afterwards.[305][306] The USNS Mercy arrives in Los Angeles for assistance.[307] Fanatics, Nike, Under Armour and others began to produce face masks. [308]

The government of the Republic of Ireland announced restrictions on movement to be in place until 12 April.[309]

28 March

After 63 new cases are confirmed in the United Arab Emirates, the country announced that disinfection and curfew will be extended to 5 April.[310]

In Nicaragua, many citizens began to express anger and disappointment at their government for not doing enough to control the virus. [311]

In the United States, the FDA authorized the emergency use of a quick COVID-19 testing kit developed by Abbott laboratories. [312][313][314][315]

29 March

Malaysian Minister of Defence Ismail Sabri Yaakob confirmed that 649 people had been detained as of yesterday while 73 people had pleaded guilty to various offenses including illegal public gatherings, obstructing public officials, and breaking through police blockades.[316]

The New Zealand Police launches a new online form on their website for people to report COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restriction breaches including isolation breaches and businesses operating illegally.[317][318]

Panama began to make its own reagents for COVID-19 test kits.[319]

The Argentine government announced the extension of the mandatory nation-wide quarantine, originally intended to end on 31 March, until mid April.[320]

30 March

In Hungary, the National Assembly passes a law allowing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to rule by decree. Other measures include imprisonment for spreading misinformation and maintaining a national state of emergency.[321]

The International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee move the 2020 Summer Olympics and 2020 Summer Paralympics 364 days from their original schedules, to be held between 23 July and 8 August 2021 and 24 August and 5 September 2021, respectively.[322]

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes into self-isolation after coming into contact with infected people.[323]

Japan bans entry by foreign citizens travelling from the United States, China, South Korea and most of Europe. Returning Japanese citizens will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.[324][325]

In Nigeria, authorities in Lagos place the city under a two-week lockdown commencing on Monday night.[326]

In Russia, Moscow authorities have placed the capital into lockdown after many residents ignored official requests to stay at home. Under strict isolation measures, residents are not allowed to leave their homes unless for a medical emergency, to travel to essential jobs, obtain groceries and medicine, and to walk their dogs.[326]

South Korea requires all travelers returning from overseas to undergo two weeks of quarantine from 1 April.[325]

President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni imposes a lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus including banning private cars from the roads for 14 days.[327]

The United Nations calls for a US$2.5 trillion emergency package to help developing countries cope with the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.[328]

In the United States, President Trump extends the country's national shutdown and social distancing rules until 30 April. Ford and General Electric unveiled plans to manufacture 50,000 ventilators in 100 days. The FDA authorized the emergency use of anti-malarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, for the treatment of seriously ill COVID-19 patients. [329][330]Some Instacart and Amazon workers protested, demanding more stringent hygiene and safety standards.[331][332]

31 March

The Malaysian Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that all Malaysians returning from overseas would have to undergo two-weeks of quarantine at designated sites across the country.[333]

The New Zealand Government extends the country's state of national emergency by seven days.[334]

The Panamanian government began to enforce limits on profit margins for critical cleaning and hygiene supplies. The government also announced the implementation of an absolute quarantine: now citizens will only be allowed to be outside on alternating days depending on the gender specified on their ID card, with everyone staying at home during Sundays. [335][336]

The Solomon Islands closes all schools in the country as a precautionary measure against COVID-19.[337]

General Electric laid off 2,600 employees in an attempt to save money on operating costs. [338]

See also

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