The Big Apple’s famously bustling streets and avenues have fallen quiet while transport hubs, iconic landmarks and tourist hotspots normally packed with visitors are virtually deserted.  Mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered restaurants, bars and cafes in the city to only sell food on a take-out or delivery basis. He also said he would order nightclubs, cinemas, small theatre houses and concert venues to pull down the shutters.

Our city is facing an unprecedented threat and we must respond with a wartime mentality

Bill de Blasio

Mr de Blasio said: “This is not a decision I make lightly.

“These places are part of the heart and soul of our city.

“They are part of what it means to be a New Yorker.

“But our city is facing an unprecedented threat and we must respond with a wartime mentality.”

New York also joined the USA’s other major public school systems in cancelling classes.

And Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued similar orders last night.

He issued an executive order to close bars, nightclubs, entertainment venues and gyms until at least 31 March.

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Officials said any restaurant, bar or cafe selling food will only be able to do so via delivery or take-out.

Americans are waking up to a new reality with store shelves stripped bare of essentials, schools closed and millions of jobs in jeopardy as businesses temporarily shut their doors.

Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts and Washington state are also among places that ordered bars to close and restaurants to stop dine-in services.

US President Donald Trump said: “We’re learning from watching other countries.

“It’s a very contagious virus but it’s something that we have tremendous control of.”

Mr Trump has faced criticism at home and abroad for sometimes downplaying the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic and overstating his administration’s ability to handle it.

US officials have recorded nearly 3,000 cases and 65 deaths.

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, said the US was entering a new phase of coronavirus testing but did not share the President’s optimism.

Dr Fauci said: “The worst is yet ahead for us.

“It is how we respond to that challenge that is going to determine what the ultimate end point is going to be.”

A number of South and Central America countries have closed their borders in the latest moves around the world to combat the spread of coronavirus.

Panama has banned the entry of non-resident foreigners and Honduras closing its borders to passenger traffic for a week.

The leaders of Argentina and Peru also announced border closures yesterday to curb coronavirus.

Argentina will close its borders for 15 days to non-residents.

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Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez said the country’s borders would be closed to non-residents for 15 days.

He said public and private school classes would be suspended until March 31 and national parks would be closed.

Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra said his country was also closing its borders and suspending all air and sea transport.

He called on citizens to self-quarantine for 15 days to help slow the infection.

Coronavirus has infected over 169,000 people globally and killed more than 6,500.

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