What's next? Here's what other countries are doing in response to COVID-19 - InfoNews

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What's next? Here's what other countries are doing in response to COVID-19

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March 15, 2020 - 8:32 AM

As COVID-19 affects everything from international travel to Sunday church services here in Canada, some countries are way ahead of us on the curve.

Some have shut down bars and beauty salons, while others have closed their borders. The approach can even be quite different between countries facing similar situations. We took a look at what other countries around the world are doing in a response to the virus, what may be heading our way and how governments and people have responded.


The worst-hit country in Europe, Italy had already closed schools and universities and urged people to stay home before the prime announced of further restrictions March 11. Sky News reports all restaurants and bars have now been closed, as well as hairdressers and beauty salons, although restaurants can still make home deliveries. NBC News reports police stopping people walking on the street and telling them to go home, with violators facing fines or even jail.

To help people cope, Italy is suspending mortgage payments for individuals to soften the economic blow of coronavirus on households, the BBC reported. An Italian banking lobby group said lenders would also offer payment holidays to small companies.

While millions of Italians live in lockdown as the country reacts to the COVID-19 outbreak, this video from the city of Siena shows the triumph of the human spirit as the voices of neighbours singing from their windows over an empty street. The (roughly translated) caption reads, "In Siena, the city to which I live, you stay at home but you sing together as if you were on the street. I was moved." As Twitter user commented, "leave it to the Italians to find beauty in tragedy."


Not everything in Italy is quite as romantic though. The X-rated website Pornhub announced in a Tweet it would be offering free membership to quarantined Italians until April 3.

The Twitter hashtag #quarentine took off on Twitter but most users appeared to be asked for suggestions of what to do, rather than giving advice. Some said it was day one and they were bored.

Others joked they now had to do chores.


Danish media reports the country has announced its most extreme measures since the second world war, closing all its borders from March 14 for one month. Anyone who is not Danish will be unable to enter Denmark, with an exception made for truck drivers delivering food and goods. The government also passed emergency legislation allowing health authorities to enforce testing, treatment and quarantine. Schools, universities and daycares have all been closed along with libraries and cultural institutions. Government workers except those in critical functions have been sent home with pay. Queen Margrethe has cancelled all celebrations relating to her 80 birthday in April.


The U.K. recorded its first death of a COVID-19 patient March 13 and the government is telling its citizens if they have a temperature of 37.8 C or above and a new continuous cough to self-isolate for seven days immediately. The U.K. government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has also said 60 per cent of the population (roughly 40 million people) will "need" to contract the virus to give society "herd immunity" and control the virus in the future. Contrary to action taken in Ontario and Quebec who are extending school vacation time, the U.K. is not closing schools.


In contrast to the U.K., Ireland has closed all its schools, universities and childcare facilities until March 29. The Guardian reported all indoor gatherings of 100 people or more and outdoor gatherings of 500 or more will be cancelled and St Patrick's Day parades around the country have been cancelled. All state-run cultural institutions will close but public transport will still run.


In the wake of over 60 deaths from the virus, French President Emmanuel Macron has announced from March 16 all schools, universities and daycare centres will close indefinitely. The president also advised people over the age of 70 to stay home. Local elections due to take place all over the country March 15 are still going ahead.


While plenty of countries have shut down schools and sporting events, Belgium is taking it one step further and from March 14 all bars, restaurants and clubs will be shut down. While supermarkets and grocery stores will remain open, all non-essential shops will close on the weekends.


From March 15 on, the Polish government will ban foreigners from entering the country and impose a 14-day quarantine on its citizens returning. Some stores, along with bars, restaurants and casinos will all be shut, and gatherings of more than 50 people are banned.


In the Netherlands, the Dutch government has imposed rules calling on everyone to work from home as much as possible, and for medical personnel, first responders, and essential workers to cancel foreign travel. While all universities have been closed, schools all remain open. Events of more than 100 people have also been banned.


While many European countries have banned gatherings of more than 100 people, the Australian government has urged people not to gather in groups of more than 500. The country has, however, suspended the upcoming Grand Prix and a cricket match against New Zealand.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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