With 983 new coronavirus cases recorded in the last 24 hours, the United States began restricting citizens’ movements Monday and taking other stringent measures.
The measures were a major escalation of attempts to contain the deadly coronavirus pandemic, as President Donald Trump warned the crisis could last well into the summer.
America now has 4663 cases as at Monday, with 86 deaths, the sixth country in the world with high fatalities from the deadly disease.
State of New Jersey and city of San Francisco announced curfews and Trump asked Americans to restrict gatherings to groups of fewer than 10 as the US dramatically ramped up efforts to stop the spread of the fast-moving outbreak.
Trump acknowledged for the first time that the US economy “may be” heading into a recession because of the pandemic that has killed more than 7,000 people worldwide as Wall Street stocks had their worst day since 1987, plunging almost 13 percent.
As America followed European nations in shutting down schools, public buildings, cinemas, restaurants and bars, Trump suggested the crisis would last several months at least in the United States.
“So it seems to me that if we do a really good job… people are talking about July, August, something like that,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
“So it could be right in that period of time where it, I say, it washes through.”
His comments came after Canada announced it was closing its borders to most foreign travellers and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he was restricting movement across the state, which borders New York City.
“Effective tonight, all other non-essential retail, recreational, and entertainment businesses MUST CLOSE after 8:00 PM,” said Murphy.
“All non-essential and non-emergency travel in New Jersey is strongly discouraged between the hours of 8:00 PM and 5:00 AM This will remain in effect for the foreseeable future. We want everyone to be home –- and not out,” he added.
Later, San Francisco passed a “remain-in-place” order requiring millions of residents to stay at home unless absolutely essential.
Before the twin announcements, only the US territory of Puerto Rico had imposed a curfew, from 9pm to 5am — along with the closure of malls, movie theaters, gyms and bars.
Normally bustling streets, transport networks and roads were eerily quiet across US cities Monday as employees worked from home and children contemplated weeks with no classes to attend.
New York — the city that usually never sleeps — began hunkering down for an extended period of inactivity with all nightclubs, theatres, cinemas and concert venues ordered to close from Tuesday.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said late Sunday that the Big Apple’s normally hectic bars and restaurants would be restricted to take-out and delivery only.