Europe puts 100million on lockdown

Europe locks down 100million: Germany and Poland tighten border controls, France puts limits on public transport and Slovakia declares state of emergency as continent’s virus death toll soars towards 2,000

  • Coronavirus hysteria in Europe continues as Poland’s shut borders cause huge traffic jams in Ukraine
  • Germans seeking to cross into Poland from Frankfurt were checked for symptoms of Covid-19 by officials
  • All flights from Warsaw Chopin Airport and John Paul II Kraków-Balice International Airport were cancelled
  • Small numbers of EasyJet and KLM ‘rescue flights’ were permitted as Polish coronavirus lockdown continues
  • In the Balkans, Serbia declared a state of emergency as public spaces were closed and Army was deployed
  • Slovakia ordered closure of all shops except food stores, pharmacies, banks, petrol stations, and post offices
  • Republic of Ireland ordered all pubs and bars to close for two weeks – including on St Patrick’s Day on Tuesday
  • Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced plans to limit movement nationwide amid Covid-19 panic
  • The Netherlands ordered all schools, day-care centers, restaurants and bars to close until April 6 
  • Turkey set aside quarantine beds for 10,000 people returning from Islam’s holy sites in Saudi Arabia 
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Coronavirus hysteria in Europe rumbles on as Poland’s shut frontiers cause huge traffic jams in Germany and Ukraine – while Serbia and Slovakia went into lockdown and Portugal closed its border with Spain.

Popular cities across the Continent – from Spain and Germany to Ukraine and Serbia – resembled ghost towns as residents spooked into self-isolation refrained from visiting bars, cafes, restaurants, and shops.

The various lockdowns are thought to be affecting 100 million across the continent.  

Chaotic scenes along the Polish frontiers with Frankfurt emerged, as hundreds of travellers were denied entry along the River Ober into western Poland, while others were tested for Covid-19 by Border officials.

Hundreds of vehicles lining the roads from Ukraine into Korczowa, southeastern Poland, were denied entry, causing massive queues, after the Polish Government closed its borders to foreigners.  

Travellers from the Czech Republic were turned away by Polish police in Hrádek nad Nisou, while flights out of Warsaw Chopin Airport and John Paul II Kraków-Balice International Airport were cancelled.

Passengers roamed empty departure lounges, though a small number of EasyJet and KLM ‘rescue flights’ were allowed to land to pick up foreigners as the country seeks to tackle the deadly contagion.  

Once-bustling streets in Gdansk and Lodz – lined with bars, cafes, restaurants, and shops – were eerily quiet. Just handfuls of strollers risked walking along the beaches or pier in Sopot, Poland. 

In the Balkans, the coronavirus panic infected Serbia, whose President declared a state of emergency to halt the spreading Covid-19 by shutting down public spaces and deploying the Army outside hospitals.

President Aleksandar Vucic, a populist who has ruled the tiny country since 2012, also closed Serbia’s borders, as he declared the ongoing crisis a battle to ‘save our elderly’.

He said: ‘From tomorrow, there is no more school, no nurseries, no universities, everything closes, no training, sports… We will close down to save our lives, to save our parents, to save our elderly.’  

The decree falls short of the lockdown seen in harder-hit countries like Italy and Spain, with the Government in Belgrade asking those over the age of 65 to self-isolate. So far, 48 infections have been recorded.   

As the coronavirus fallout took a drastic turn:

  • Slovakia also declared a state of emergency, ordering the closure of all shops except food stores, pharmacies, banks, petrol stations, and post offices from tomorrow night; 
  • Portugal will close its border with Spain to tourists for at least one month to curb the spread of Covid-19, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa revealed;
  • Coronavirus cases in Italy reached nearly 25,000, while the country recorded another 368 deaths – bringing the death toll to 1,809. Pope Francis prayed for the sick in two churches in Rome;
  • In Spain, long lines for food and police patrols marked the first day of a nationwide quarantine;
  • The Republic of Ireland ordered all pubs and bars to close for two weeks – including on St Patrick’s Day on Tuesday – and urged people not even to hold house parties; 
  • In the Philippines, soldiers and police sealed off capital city Manila from most domestic travellers;
  • Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced plans to limit movement nationwide; 
  • The Netherlands ordered all schools, day-care centers, restaurants and bars to close until April 6. The new restrictions cover the country’s famed marijuana-selling ‘coffee shops’ and sex clubs;
  • Elsewhere, Morocco suspended all international flights, and Turkey set aside quarantine beds for more than 10,000 people returning from Islam’s holy sites in Saudi Arabia;
  • In China, where the virus was first detected in December, those arriving on overseas flights were routed to an exhibition center for initial checks before being shuttled to their homes or other quarantine locations. 

Coronavirus hysteria in Europe continued today on as Poland’s shut frontiers cause huge traffic jams in Germany and Ukraine – while Serbia and Slovakia went into lockdown and Portugal closed its border with Spain

An aerial picture taken with a drone shows the border crossing between Poland and Ukraine in Korczowa, Poland

An aerial picture taken with a drone shows the border crossing between Poland and Ukraine in Korczowa, Poland

An aerial picture taken with a drone shows the border crossing between Poland and Ukraine in Korczowa, Poland

An aerial picture taken with a drone shows the border crossing between Poland and Ukraine in Korczowa, Poland

Vehicles stand in a long line to the border crossing between Poland and Ukraine in Korczowa, Poland, amid the lockdown

An aerial picture taken with a drone shows the border crossing between Poland and Ukraine in Korczowa, Poland

A man wearing a protective face mask stands on the Poland-German border crossing point in Frankfurt/Oder, Germany

People with travel trolleys are seen on the way to the Poland-German border crossing point in Frankfurt/Oder, Germany

A Polish police officer stands on the Poland-German border crossing point in Frankfurt/Oder, Germany

A man gets a temperature check on the Poland-German border crossing point in Frankfurt/Oder, Germany

Polish policemen talk to drivers at the closed border crossing near Hradek nad Nisou, Czech Republic

A man takes a photo of an information board with cancellations, John Paul II Krakow-Balice International Airport

An Easy Jet ‘rescue flight’ ready for departure at the John Paul II Krakow-Balice International Airport as flights are cancelled

A view of the departures hall at the Chopin Airport in Warsaw, showing multiple cancellations amid coronavirus hysteria

Passengers waiting in the arrivals hall at the Chopin Airport in Warsaw, as flights are cancelled amid coronavirus hysteria


Passengers waiting in the arrivals hall at the Chopin Airport in Warsaw, as flights are cancelled amid coronavirushysteria 

Passengers waiting in the arrivals hall at the Chopin Airport in Warsaw, as flights are cancelled amid coronavirus hysteria

An Easy Jet ‘rescue flight’ ready for departure at the John Paul II Krakow-Balice International Airport as flights are cancelled

Empty Freedom Square in Lodz, Poland, as the Government closed its borders and residents were spooked into self-isolation

Piotrkowska street in Lodz, Poland, as the Government closed its borders and residents were spooked into self-isolation

Piotrkowska street in Lodz, Poland, as the Government closed its borders and residents were spooked into self-isolation

Piotrkowska street in Lodz, Poland, as the Government closed its borders and residents were spooked into self-isolation

Piotrkowska street in Lodz, Poland, as the Government closed its borders and residents were spooked into self-isolation

Empty streets and closed shops in Gdansk Old Town, Poland, as the country confirms 119 cases and three Covid-19 deaths

Empty streets and closed shops in Gdansk Old Town, Poland, as the country confirms 119 cases and three Covid-19 deaths

Empty streets and closed shops in Gdansk Old Town, Poland, as the country confirms 119 cases and three Covid-19 deaths

A musician wearing a face mask in the middle of Old Town, Gdansk, Poland – clearly undeterred by pressure to self-isolate

Empty streets in Sopot, Poland, as coronavirus hysteria sweeps Europe, deemed the crisis ‘epicentre’ by the WHO

Empty streets in Sopot, Poland, as coronavirus hysteria sweeps Europe, deemed the crisis ‘epicentre’ by the WHO

Few strollers brave the outdoors on the pier in Sopot, Poland,  as coronavirus hysteria sweeps crisis ‘epicentre’ Europe

Walkers on the beach in Sopot, Poland – clearly undeterred by the spread of the killer bug and the pressure to self-isolate

Walkers on the beach in Sopot, Poland – clearly undeterred by the spread of the killer bug and the pressure to self-isolate

Few strollers brave the outdoors on the pier in Sopot, Poland, as coronavirus hysteria sweeps crisis ‘epicentre’ Europe

Germany announced that both its southern and northern land borders would close from today, while France said it would limit transport within the country – including trains – for the first time.   

For traffic going the other way, France said it would implement tougher checks on people and goods at its frontier with Germany, but insisted this did not represent a border closure. 

Italy, the worst-hit European country, reported its biggest day-to-day increase in infections – 3,590 more cases in a 24-hour period – for a total of almost 24,747.

‘It’s not a wave. It’s a tsunami,’ said Dr. Roberto Rona, who’s in charge of intensive care at the Monza hospital.

Italy’s transport ministry banned passengers from taking ferries to the island of Sardinia and halted overnight train trips, which many in the north had used to reach homes and families in the south.

Even as authorities pleaded for people to stay home, Pope Francis visited St. Mary Major Basilica, near Rome’s central train station, to pray for the sick, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

The pontiff then walked to another church with a crucifix that in 1522 was carried in a procession during a plague afflicting Rome. In his prayer, Francis ‘invoked the end of the pandemia that has stricken Italy and the world, implored healing for the many sick, recalled the many victims of these days’.

The Vatican said it would close all Holy Week ceremonies to the public with the start of Palm Sunday on April 5.   

Spain joined Italy on lockdown after the government declared a two-week state of emergency.

‘From now, we enter into a new phase,’ said Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, whose wife has tested positive. ‘We won’t hesitate in doing what we need must to beat the virus. We are putting health first.’ 

Vietnamese tourists wearing face masks and wedding clothes pose in front of the Eiffel Tower, closed during the lockdown

Metropolitan police officers halt a tourist strolling through Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain, during the lockdown

The Pariser Platz in front of the Brandenburg Gate is almost empty in Berlin, Germany, as bars and pubs are closed

People take pictures on the Hungary-Slovakia border bridge in Esztergom Hungary, after Slovakia went into lockdown

Empty parking spaces are seen in a shopping centre parkade, after Slovakia went into lockdown amid coronavirus panic

A view of closed stores at a shopping centre, after the Slovakian Government announced a lockdown amid coronavirus panic

A view of closed stores at a shopping centre, after the Slovakian Government announced a lockdown amid coronavirus panic

A police officer in a protective suit checks the temperature of a person inside a car at Slovak-Czech border in Drietoma

Police officers in protective suits check the temperature of people inside cars at Slovak-Czech border in Drietoma

Cars and trucks queue up towards the Bratislava-Jarovce border crossing between Austria and Slovakia

Cars and trucks queue up towards the Bratislava-Jarovce border crossing between Austria and Slovakia

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic addresses the public as he declares a state of emergency triggered by Covid-19

A Serbian medical worker checks the body temperature of a traveller at the Batrovci crossing between Serbia and Croatia

Pope Francis prays at the Santa Maria Maggiore basilica for the end of the coronavirus pandemic, in Rome

Residents on balconies sing during a flashmob to raise morale as the lockdown continues due to the coronavirus outbreak

Pope Francis walks in a deserted Rome to pray at two shrines for the end of the coronavirus pandemic

A view of the Duomo gothic cathedral in Milan, as hard-hit Italy endures a lockdown triggered by the coronavirus

A view of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele shopping arcade in Milan, as Italy endures a lockdown triggered by the coronavirus

An empty square is seen in Venice, as an unprecedented lockdown was imposed on Italy to tackle the coronavirus crisis

A man wearing a protective mask on an empty Rialto Bridge, as Venice appears deserted due to the coronavirus outbreak

Hundreds of thousands of British tourists stranded in Spain after country entered two-week lockdown – as country’s death toll doubled overnight to 288 

Hundreds of thousands of British tourists and expats are stranded in Spain today after the country entered an unprecedented two-week lockdown. Panicked holidaymakers were last night scrambling to escape after the Spanish Government declared a state of emergency over coronavirus.

Denis Couzens (left) and his wife Margaret are on lockdown in a caravan and motorhome site near Puerto Duquesa

The drastic action came as the country’s death toll from the outbreak more than doubled overnight to 288 yesterday and the number of infections soared by a third to 7,753. 

Last night, city streets and beaches fell eerily silent as Spain’s 47million citizens hunkered down in their homes and tourists were forced to stay in their hotels.

On the Costa del Sol, home to 50,000 British expats, police in face masks and latex gloves patrolled beaches with megaphones, warning of prison time and on-the-spot fines of up to £25,000 for anyone caught breaching the lockdown. Retired British fireman Denis Couzens and his wife Margaret are staying on a caravan site near the Costa del Sol resort of Estepona. 

They arrived on January 8 after driving through France from their home in Kent, and had been due to stay until April 1 – but now face an anxious two-weeks under lockdown.

Mr Couzens, 70, said: ‘I take medication for a lung disease called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which could be linked to my years as a firefighter so I’m in the risk category… we’re probably not going to take the risk of leaving to try to get home if things are still so volatile. There’s a good 150 holidaymakers on the site at the moment and around 70 per cent of them are British. 

‘Most are in their sixties and seventies.’

In Madrid, shoppers kept a distance from each other as they formed an orderly queue outside a supermarket. A security guard in a face mask let them in two by two. Children’s playgrounds in the Spanish capital were cordoned off with police tape, and in Benidorm, baton-wielding police officers ordered British revellers back to their hotels. 

The emergency measures mean all shops, restaurants, bars and cafes have been closed, but supermarkets and pharmacies are open for essential visits only. Spain is the UK’s most popular holiday destination and welcomes 20million Britons a year. It is also home to 300,000 British expats, many of them elderly.

Panic spread through resorts over the weekend as airlines including EasyJet, TUI, Jet2 and Ryanair cancelled flights to and from the mainland, the Balearics and the Canary Islands. Airlines such as Jet2 are flying empty planes to Spain over the next few days to repatriate holidaymakers on a handful of ‘rescue flights’.

EasyJet has warned seats for its rescue flights will be sold on a ‘first-come-first-served’ basis. 

Julia Spencer, 52, from Saddleworth, near Manchester, flew Jet2 on Friday for an all-inclusive four-day holiday on Tenerife’s five-star Sandos San Blas Nature Resort. Mrs Spencer, who is holidaying with a friend, said: ‘There are hundreds of British tourists here and most of us are really panicked. We have no idea what’s going on. 

‘The hotel reception say that once the lockdown comes into force, we won’t be able to leave the hotel for any reason other than to visit a pharmacy. But we’ve had nothing official from anyone. There are lots of scary rumours going round. One of the bar staff said we could get a 500 euro fine if we leave the hotel. We are in a fortunate position because our holiday is all-inclusive and we’ve been told our flight home on Tuesday is going ahead as planned.’

In the same hotel is Mike Vidler, 69, of West Sussex. He said: ‘I am pretty sure that if I got coronavirus, I would find it very difficult. I have had MS for 41 years and I have type 2 diabetes. There are a lot of people worried here but we’re just carrying on with our holidays as normal and trying not to panic too much.’ 

In Barcelona, people who ventured out formed long lines to buy bread. Police patrolled parks and told people who were not walking their dogs to go home. The Las Ramblas promenade, a tourist magnet, was eerily empty.

The state of emergency ‘is necessary to unify our efforts so we can all go in the same direction,’ Mayor Ada Colau said, as Spain’s Health Ministry recorded 288 deaths – up from 136 on Saturday.

According to Spanish officials, the number of infections rose from 5,700 to 7,753 overnight. 

Europe is gripped by a collective fit of panic as Covid-19 – the illness caused by the Wuhan coronavirus – rips across the mainland, from Italy and Germany to France and overseas to Ireland and the UK.

Governments have responded to the spread of the deadly bug in draconian fashion, emulating the Chinese response to the virus, after Europe was called the ‘epicentre’ of the crisis by the WHO. 

In the UK, Boris Johnson is understood to have reviewed the Government’s handling of the escalating crisis as shoppers rampaged through supermarkets across the country to stockpile amid fears of Covid-19.

His administration was accused of ‘complacency’ and ‘playing roulette’ with people’s lives after a gloomy No 10 press briefing on Thursday where the Prime Minister warned of further deaths.

But Mr Johnson has now assembled a designated task force to deal with the coronavirus, involving Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s Chief Scientific Adviser. 

The Government has prepared emergency legislation which is expected to sail through Parliament next week that will greatly increase the powers of the Executive as it comes under huge public pressure to act.

Some people walk next to imperial Schoenbrunn palace in Vienna, Austria, as the country also goes into lockdown

Schoenbrunn Palace closed without tourists, as residents and travellers are spooked into self-isolation amid Covid-19 fears

Empty streets in Vienna as the coronavirus affects everyday life in Austria at District Meidling

general view of Innsbruck one hour before the curfew was enforced as part of restrictions imposed to tackle Covid-19

A man walks in front of the Golden Roof in the old town of Innbruck, as Austria goes into lockdown amid general hysteria

Two men play music at an open window in Innsbruck one hour before the curfew was enforced amid Covid-19 panic


The Republic of Ireland ordered all pubs and bars to close for two weeks and urged people not even to hold house parties

A man dressed up as Saint Patrick outside The Temple Bar pub in Dublin, as bars close to curb the spread of coronavirus

Waterlooplein plazza, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands is completely deserted as the country also goes into lockdown

Red Light District, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands is completely deserted as the country also goes into lockdown

Kalverstraat street in Amsterdam, the Netherlands is completely deserted as the country also goes into lockdown

Turkish citizens repatriated from the pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia wait prior to being placed quarantine to limit the spread

A worker of Istanbul’s Metropolitan Municipality disinfects the Panagia Altimermer Orthodox Greek Church in Istanbul

A worker in a protective suit disinfects the Fatih Mosque in Istanbul to mitigate the spread of the deadly coronavirus

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