Bars, restaurants, theaters and movie houses in New York and Los Angeles were ordered to shut down and several nations in South and Central America closed their borders in the latest moves around the world to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
The U.S. Federal Reserve slashed interest rates in emergency action and other central banks took similar aggressive steps to cushion the economic impact of the disease, but Asian stock markets and the dollar continued to tumble on Monday.
At an emergency meeting, the Bank of Japan further eased monetary policy by ramping up purchases of exchange-traded funds and other risky assets. Australia’s central bank pumped extra liquidity into a strained financial system and said it would announce more policy steps on Thursday.
Leaders of the G7 countries will hold a video conference at 1400 GMT on Monday to discuss a joint response to the coronavirus outbreak, officials have said.
The coordinated policy actions were reminiscent of the sweeping steps taken just over a decade ago to fight a meltdown of the global financial system, but this time the target is an entirely unfamiliar foe – a fast-spreading health crisis with no certain end in sight that is forcing entire societies to effectively shut down.
Several countries imposed bans on mass gatherings such as sporting, cultural and religious events to combat the disease that has infected over 169,000 people globally and killed more than 6,500.
France and Spain joined Italy in imposing lockdowns on tens of millions of people while Australia ordered self-isolation of arriving foreigners.
New Zealand’s central bank slashed interest rates by 75 basis points to a record low on Monday following an emergency meeting. The Bank of Japan and four other central banks cut pricing on their swap lines to make it easier to provide dollars to their financial institutions facing stress in credit markets.
“This cannot prevent the economic fallout from social distancing,” said Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at National Australia Bank in Sydney, referring to a method being used by many countries to try to slow the spread of the virus.
“That will require some fiscal spending and something from the government to make sure small companies are funded.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Sunday he was ordering restaurants, bars and cafes to only sell food on a take-out or delivery basis. He also said he would order nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses and concert venues to close.
“These places are part of the heart and soul of our city,” he said. “But our city is facing an unprecedented threat, and we must respond with a wartime mentality.”