World in lockdown, pledges $1.5trn in aid to combat deadly coronavirus

By Bloomberg News

(Bloomberg) – As the coronavirus extends its reach around the globe, schools and universities are closing; lockdowns have become commonplace; non-essential businesses like cinemas, gyms, clubs, bars and restaurants are shut; and companies are asking employees to work from home wherever possible.

To help meet the costs of all this, governments around the world have pledged or are considering more than $1.5trn in fiscal support. That aid ranges from guarantees on bank loans to tax deferments and even to cash handouts.

The European Central Bank has boosted liquidity for banks in the euro area and loosened capital demands, and is buying an additional €120bn ($132bn) of the region’s bonds. The US is weighing a $1.2trn stimulus. The European Union closed its borders.

Below is a country-by-country list of broad actions taken or planned by governments of G-20 nations, including EU members, to counter what has turned into the deadliest pandemic in more than a century.

Argentina

  • Central bank may compel private banks to lend to companies.
  • Domestic travel suspended for coming holiday weekend. Schools, borders closed through end of March. Government considering ordering everyone to stay at home for 10 days.
  • More than 4 million retirees to get a one-time payment in April.

Australia

  • Cut benchmark interest rate to 0.5%. Government expected to release a second stimulus package after an initial A$17.6bn ($10.6bn) to support the economy.
  • All citizens warned to avoid overseas travel indefinitely.
  • Non-essential gatherings of more than 100 people banned.

Austria

  • Schools, restaurants, cafes, theatres and most shops closed; grocery stores and pharmacies remain open; gatherings of more than five people banned. Border controls applied and entry restricted from Italy and Switzerland; several Alpine ski resorts quarantined.
  • Testing focused on those with symptoms who have had contact with infected people or have been to crisis regions.
  • €4bn economic package and €2bn of loan guarantees.

Belgium

  • All stores except supermarkets and pharmacies shut; all citizens confined to their homes until April 5. Violators will face fines. Public gatherings banned.
  • Testing only of critical cases.
  • Government earmarked €1bn in aid to those affected; to make temporary unemployment payments for workers; tax and social security payments deferred.

Brazil

  • Government plans to spend about $30bn, half of which will be used to help the poor and elderly.
  • Lenders given more flexibility to use capital and measures announced to facilitate debt negotiations.

Canada

  • Government set aside C$1bn ($702m) in funding and C$10bn in new credit. It may buy as much as C$50bn in home mortgages. Additional fiscal stimulus was to be announced on Wednesday.
  • Borders closed to most foreigners and citizens advised to avoid non-essential travel.
  • Central bank cut rates by full percentage point; loosened capital requirements to boost lending.

China

  • Central bank pumped 550bn yuan ($78bn) of liquidity into the banking system by cutting reserve requirements. Taxes cut for virus-hit companies, and there are plans to spend more on infrastructure. Debt cap increased to help smaller companies raise funds overseas.
  • Beijing quarantines all travelers from overseas for two weeks; Shanghai quarantines arrivals from 16 countries.
  • Most public venues, including schools, remain closed.

Cyprus

  • Borders closed for non-resident foreigners. Non-essential retail and leisure businesses closed. Supermarkets, take-aways and pharmacies open.
  • Financial support package of €700m, including special leave for employees and lower sales-tax rates.

Czech Republic

  • No entry for non-residents and Czechs barred from leaving; non-essential services closed.
  • 30 hospitals and labs charged with conducting tests.
  • Emergency rate cut of half percentage point, extra liquidity for banks; deferred tax payments, interest-free loans for small businesses.

France

  • Ban on unnecessary movement, fines for non-compliance. Non-essential services, schools, bars, restaurants, clubs, gyms closed. Grocery stores, pharmacies open.
  • Testing and tracking only if doctors consider crucial.
  • Emergency budget to include €45bn of spending and €300bn of loan guarantees.

Germany

  • Most public and private venues such as bars, cinemas and museums closed. Non-essential services shut; supermarkets open, including on Sundays.
  • All people with unexplained respiratory symptoms to be tested.
  • Government to make as much as €550bn available in lending for businesses from German state bank KfW.

Greece

  • Non-essential services shut; no flights to and from Italy and Spain; borders with Albania and North Macedonia closed.
  • Testing for those with symptoms.
  • Tax and loan payments deferred; special paid leave for parents.

India

  • Central bank boosts cash injection through 13.5 billion rupees ($181m) of long-term repo operations and $2bn for the foreign-exchange market.
  • Most inbound travel visas suspended; arrivals prohibited from some countries.
  • Residents asked to avoid non-essential travel; schools, gyms, museums and theaters closed.

Indonesia

  • Central bank expected to cut its policy rate; bank bought billions of dollars of government bonds and intervened in currency markets to stabilise the rupiah.
  • Government stimulus package increased to 33.22 trillion rupiah ($2.19bn).
  • Mosques urged worshippers to stay at home.

Italy

  • Non-essential services, schools closed; unnecessary movement banned in a lockdown.
  • Testing and tracking only for patients showing symptoms.
  • €25bn package, including loan guarantees, takeover of Alitalia and funds for businesses and individuals. Short-selling banned for 90 days.

Ireland

  • Pubs closed, many cafes and restaurants voluntarily closed.
  • Widespread testing available.
  • Government to spend an initial €3bn on tackling the health crisis and economic consequences.

Japan

  • Central bank raised the upper limit of its annual ETF purchase target to 12 trillion yen ($112bn).
  • Government urged residents to halt travel to most of Europe; inbound travellers from Europe need to self-quarantine.
  • Some government officials signalled a possible delay of the Tokyo Olympics.

Latvia

  • Ports, airports and borders closed to non-residents; schools closed; official events canceled and unofficial events capped at 50 people.
  • Checks at airports, ports.
  • Credit guarantees worth 1 billion euros, possible three-year tax relief, sick-day support.

Lithuania

  • Nationwide two-week lockdown; border controls. Bars, restaurants, schools closed, people encouraged to work from home. Shopping limited to groceries and pharmacies.
  • Testing for people returning from trips and those with pneumonia symptoms.
  • €2.5bn in economic aid, including liquidity instruments, tax loans and state guarantees. Central bank to ease liquidity and capital requirements.

Luxembourg

  • Ban on unnecessary movement; schools, restaurants, cafes, other non-essential facilities closed. Police are performing checks and are ready to fine violators.
  • Testing and tracking only if doctors consider crucial; first drive-through testing facility created.
  • Leave for employees caring for children; aid for companies facing liquidity problems.

Mexico

  • Set aside about $150 million in aid.
  • Schools set to close next week.

Portugal

  • Schools and clubs closed, access to malls limited; restaurant capacities reduced by one-third. Churches closed, masses broadcast; events with more than 100 people banned.
  • Portugal and Spain suspended transport links until April 15. Some land crossings open only for goods. Non-resident cruise passengers barred; flights to Italy suspended; non-EU flights to be halted midnight on Wednesday.
  • Credit line for smaller companies and assistance for workers looking after children aged 12 or younger.

Romania

  • State of emergency declared; schools and universities closed, tight controls at borders, flights to and from Italy suspended.
  • Testing for all returning from virus-impacted countries.
  • Central bank to provide liquidity, if needed. The government plans $2bn in state guarantees for smaller companies.

Russia

  • Ban on entry to most foreigners; schools closed.
  • Free tests for people who’ve visited high-risk countries.
  • $4bn fund to assist businesses and individuals; tax payments deferred. Central bank sold 22 billion rubles in foreign currencies.

Saudi Arabia

  • Land crossings closed and international flights halted; pilgrimages to Mecca banned. Non-essential services closed.
  • Testing for those with symptoms. Self-quarantine for those who have come in contact with infected people.
  • Package worth 50bn riyals ($13.3bn) in loans and loan guarantees to businesses.

South Africa

  • National disaster declared; gatherings of more than 100 people banned; schools, 35 of 53 land crossings closed; access closed to travellers from high-risk countries.
  • Testing available for those with symptoms.
  • Government working on measures to minimise economic impact; central bank may cut interest rate by 50 basis points on Thursday.

Spain

  • National emergency declared; unnecessary movement barred; schools, bars, restaurants, non-essential services closed; land borders closed, and flights to and from Italy suspended.
  • Emergency helpline for people with symptoms; testing for people with serious symptoms.
  • Stimulus package of €200bn to provide loan guarantees to companies, especially smaller businesses, plus a tax moratorium; delayed mortgage payments for families; €400m aid package for tourism industry.

Slovenia

  • Air travel and public transport suspended; medical checks at Italian border. Businesses closed, except for banks, gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies.
  • Testing decisions to be made by doctors.
  • Government promised  €1bn to help businesses.

South Korea

  • Central bank cut benchmark interest rate to record low. Government to accelerate special 11.7 trillion won ($9.4bn) budget; cap on banks’ foreign-exchange forward positions eased by 25%.
  • Testing widespread, covering more than 10,000 people a day; test results accelerated.
  • Travel advisory alert raised for some European countries; school reopening delayed.

Sweden

  • Non-essential trips abroad barred. High schools and universities closed; gatherings of more than 500 people banned.
  • Priority tests for people who need hospital care, the elderly and health-care workers with symptoms.
  • Riksbank support totaling $80bn; from the government, a $31bn economic package; key bank capital requirement cut, freeing up $90bn for new lending.

Switzerland

  • Restrictions on travel from high-risk countries; schools, restaurants, bars, entertainment and leisure venues closed; grocery stores, pharmacies and banks open; all public and private events banned.
  • Conducting about 2,000 tests a day.
  • Government has pledged 10bn francs ($10.5bn) in support, including funds to prevent layoffs, and emergency loan assistance especially for small- and medium-sized firms.

Turkey

  • School, mosques, non-essential services shut; flights to and from 20 countries suspended; about 10,000 citizens returning from pilgrimage to Mecca quarantined.
  • Central bank cut one-week repo rate by a percentage point, added liquidity into markets by cutting amount of foreign exchange lenders must park and postponing foreign-exchange debt repayments by exporters.

UK

  • Public advised to avoid all non-essential travel overseas, as well as use of public transport, gatherings with friends and family; limiting interaction with others by people over 70.
  • Testing to be increased and those with symptoms asked to self-isolate at home for seven days; if living with others, not leave the house for 14 days.
  • Government promised help with mortgage payments, and support for airlines, shops and the hospitality industry, with ÂŁ350bn ($424bn) of government-backed loans, grants and tax cuts.

US

  • Government advises people not to congregate in groups of more than 10 and suggests states close schools; about 75% of schools closed nationwide.
  • Congress debates $1.2 trillion in spending, including direct payments of $1,000 or more to Americans within two weeks.
  • Twenty states ordered restaurants, bars or both closed to sit-down customers. New York City may order citizens to shelter-in-place after closing all bars, restaurants and theaters. Residents of the San Francisco Bay Area ordered to stay at home.
  •  Ohio canceled March 17 presidential primary election and closed schools.