By early April 2020, over a third of the global population was under some form of
movement restriction or COVID-19 lockdown.
China was the first country to have a COVID-19 lockdown, in Wuhan on 23 January. At
its peak, China’s quarantine measures were enforced in at least 20 provinces/regions.
India commenced a 3-week coronavirus lockdown, with a total ban on venturing out of
homes on 24 March. Singapore closed schools and all non-essential businesses as a
COVID-19 ‘circuit breaker’ from 7 April until 1 June. Thailand enacted a curfew between
10:00 p.m. and 04:00 a.m. from 3 April. No date has been set for when the curfew’s
In Europe, Italy enforced a nationwide lockdown from 10 March. All stores except for
grocery stores and pharmacies were closed. Those wishing to travel for valid reasons
require police permission. Spain imposed a nationwide quarantine on 14 March, extended
to 25 April. The restrictions were further tightened on 6 April, with only essential
workers allowed to go to work. UK residents are only allowed to leave their homes
for essential work, exercise and purchasing food/medicine from 23 March. There is
a ban on gatherings of >2 people. France implemented a full lockdown on 16 March to
15 April, banning public gatherings and walks outside. The lockdown will be extended
again. Germany shut down shops, churches, sports facilities, bars and clubs in 16
states. The lockdown has been extended to 19 April.
In Russia, Moscow residents were ordered to stay at home on 30 March. At least 27
other Russian regions have followed Moscow’s lead.
In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dubai imposed a 2-week lockdown from 5 April, while
the rest of the UAE has had overnight curfews since 26 March. A police permit is required
for every trip outdoors. Saudi Arabia locked down its capital and two holy cities
on 25 March and Jeddah on 29 March. On 6 April, it locked down several other major
cities. Jordan has a strict indefinite lockdown since 21 March, which was eased a
little on 25 March. Israel went into partial lockdown on 19 March tightened restrictions
on 25 March and had a full national lockdown for Passover on 7 April.
In the USA, Washington cannot decree the entire country to shut down. Most states
operate autonomously. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is not authorized
to enforce a nationwide lockdown. By early April, at least 24 states have directed
residents to stay at home. Seven have announced closure of schools.
In South America, Argentina went into a lockdown on 21 March until 31 March and this
has been extended to 13 April. Colombia enacted a nationwide quarantine on 24 March,
with people >70 years old told to remain indoors until May. In Peru, men can leave
their houses on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. For Panama, these are the days that
women can leave. No one is allowed outdoors on Sundays.
In Africa, Morocco suspended international flights on 15 March and has closed mosques,
schools and restaurants. Kenya closed schools, pubs and restaurants, and blocked non-residents
from entering the country on 15 March. South Africa entered a 21-day lockdown on 26
March. Only essential businesses remain open, with soldiers and police monitoring
Australia closed non-essential businesses on 23 March. New South Wales, Australia’s
outbreak epicentre, was locked down on 7 April. New Zealand went into a month-long
lockdown on 25 March, which will only be partially eased after a month if case trends
As the pandemic curve peaks or flattens, the next important but complicated issue
will be the timing and degree of relaxation of these lockdowns.