‘Wartime mentality’: Virus shutters NY, LA and the World

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Bars, restaurants, theaters and movie houses in New York and Los Angeles were ordered to shut down to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic as central banks around the world took aggressive steps to cushion the economic impact of the disease

    The U.S. Federal Reserve slashed interest rates, for the second time in less than two weeks, to near zero and other central banks followed suit but stock markets and the dollar continued to tumble.

    Europe’s main stocks markets plunged more than 6% in brutal opening trading [.EU] while Wall Street futures for the S&P 500 index had hit their downlimit in the first quarter-hour of Asian trade as investors rushed for safety.

    At an emergency meeting, the Bank of Japan further eased monetary policy by ramping up purchases of exchange-traded funds and other risky assets.

    Leaders of the G7 countries will hold a video conference at 10 a.m. ET on Monday to discuss a joint response to the coronavirus outbreak, officials have said.

    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.”

    Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued similar orders. Any restaurant, bar or cafe selling food will only be able to do so via delivery or take-out, officials said.

    “The worst is yet ahead for us,” said Dr Anthony Fauci, the top infectious diseases expert in the United States. “It is how we respond to that challenge that is going to determine what the ultimate end point is going to be.”

    The worldwide 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 a fast-spreading health crisis with no certain end in sight that is forcing entire societies to effectively shut down.

    “The issue for investors that still remains is that the virus’s economic impact is still not known, if this is a one-month event or if this is a one-year event, and how deep the cutback in consumer spending is going to be,” said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments in New Vernon, New Jersey.

    MORE CASES OUTSIDE CHINA THAN IN

    Airlines around the world said they would make more drastic cuts to their flying schedules, shed jobs and seek government aid because of sweeping global travel restrictions.

    Several countries imposed bans on mass gatherings such as sports, cultural and religious events to combat the disease that has infected over 169,000 people globally and killed more than 6,500.

    The virus was first identified in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December but there have now been more cases and more deaths outside China than inside.

    (Graphic: Tracking the spread here)

    France and Spain joined Italy in imposing lockdowns on tens of millions of people while Australia ordered self-isolation of arriving foreigners.

    Australia’s central bank pumped extra liquidity into a strained financial system and said it would announce more policy steps on Thursday. South Korea’s central bank cut its benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points to a record low 0.75%.

    The virus was first identified in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December but there have now been more cases and more deaths outside China than inside.

    (Graphic: Tracking the spread here)

    France and Spain joined Italy in imposing lockdowns on tens of millions of people while Australia ordered self-isolation of arriving foreigners.

    Australia’s central bank pumped extra liquidity into a strained financial system and said it would announce more policy steps on Thursday. South Korea’s central bank cut its benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points to a record low 0.75%.