The Slatest

France and Spain Implement Massive and Dramatic Quarantine Restrictions

A couple, wearing protective masks and gloves, sit on a bench outside.
A Spanish couple enjoy fresh air in Seville on Saturday. Spain has ordered all of its citizens to stay in their homes unless they absolutely have to leave. Cristina Quicler/Getty Images

More European nations have joined Italy in enacting dramatic measures meant to keep their citizens in their homes for all but the most necessary of circumstances in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

On Saturday, Spain ordered all of its citizens to stay in their homes unless they absolutely have to leave to go to work, buy food, seek medical care, or help out elderly or otherwise vulnerable people in need of assistance. All bars, restaurants, and schools were ordered to close.

France also ordered all restaurants, bars, cafes, movie theaters, and other “non-indispensable businesses” to close starting at midnight. Grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and gas stations are some of the only exceptions.

Both countries had seen an uptick in cases in recent days. Spain saw 2,000 new cases on Saturday alone, bringing its total up to more than 5,700. The number of cases in France has recently doubled and the country now has around 4,500 confirmed cases.

Italy, the country with the most cases after China, has been operating under these restrictions in a full quarantine since Monday. More than 21,000 people have contracted the virus there, and more than 1,440 people have died from it.

Some non-European countries have taken similar measures. Starting Sunday, all restaurants, cafes, calls, hotels, movie theaters, gyms, and schools in Israel will be closed. Israel, which has less than 200 cases, also banned any foreign visitors from entering the country and gatherings of more than 10 people. Iran, which follows Italy as the third hardest-hit, has closed all schools, universities, sporting events, cafes, restaurants, museums, and movie theaters. And like Italy, it cracked down on travel within the country.

In a press briefing Friday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called Europe the “epicenter of the pandemic.” China still has far more cases than any other country, but thanks to dramatic and sometimes extreme measures, its pace has slowed. Elsewhere in the world, cases are on the rise. There are now more than 153,000 cases of coronavirus worldwide.