March 16 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 10:14 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020
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12:09 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Rhode Island bans gatherings of more than 25 people

From CNN’s Ganesh Setty


All public gatherings will be restricted to 25 or less people in Rhode Island, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Monday. The ban applied to municipal buildings, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles.

All dine-in food and beverage services will be shut down until March 30 due to coronavirus concerns. The policy will take effect tomorrow, and drive-through and takeout delivery service can remain open, she said.

The state's April 28 primary election will not be postponed as of now, Raimondo added. 

“In an ideal world, we would move to an all mail — an all mail election,” she said.

12:05 p.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Indiana closes state museum and limits bars and restaurants

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said he's closing bars and restaurants until the end of March, limiting them to carry out and delivery.

Nearly all of the school districts are closed, and the state is working with the only 16 school corporations that remain open to determine their next steps.

The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites will be closed to the public starting tomorrow. 

11:58 a.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Some businesses in New York are shutting down. These are the ones that are exempt.

John Minchillo/AP
John Minchillo/AP

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is working with with the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut, announced a number of business closures earlier this morning. 

Bars and restaurants close at 8 p.m. ET. All local governments must reduce their workforce by 50% minimum and all non-essential personnel can stay home.

Meanwhile, Cuomo outlined the businesses that are considered essential and exempt from the shutdown:

  • Grocery stores
  • Gas stations
  • Pharmacies
  • Medical facilities
11:53 a.m. ET, March 16, 2020

New York governor: "We need the federal government to play its role"

From CNN's Melanie Schuman

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo State of New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo stressed the importance of federal assistance during the coronavirus outbreak.

“We need the federal government to play its role,” Cuomo said today. “We need federal assets and we need federal assistance.” 

He said the state needs to find facilities to be converted to hospitals and he hopes to not pay money to acquire new land. 

While noting that New York state has built bridges and other infrastructure, Cuomo said “We don’t have billions of dollars you would need.”

“This state can’t do it, no state can do it," he added.

Cuomo is asking local governments to “immediately identify a number of beds in facilities that are available.”


11:35 a.m. ET, March 16, 2020

EU restricts non-essential travel

The European Commission will introduce temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU, as part of its efforts to tackle and contain the ongoing spread of coronavirus across Europe, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen just announced. 

“The less travel, the more we can contain the virus, therefore, as I have just informed our G7 partners, I propose to the heads of state and government, a restriction on non-essential travel to the European Union,” von der Leyen said in a video statement shared on her Twitter account. 

She continued: “These restrictions should be in place for an initial period of 30 days, which can be prolonged as necessary,” she added.

However she clarified that there will be some exemptions to the restrictions, including family members of European nationals, essential staff, such as doctors and nurses, and people transporting goods to the European Union.

11:29 a.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Howard University cancels commencement

Howard University in DC said it is canceling this year's commencement ceremonies and all class reunions because of coronavirus.

President Wayne Frederick sent a statement saying the school "will not return to face-to-face instruction of courses" for the rest of the semester.

Classes "continue to transition to remote and online instruction following the scheduled spring break," he said. 

Residence halls will close on Sunday, and school officials are working with various partners for prorated refunds of room and board charges, the statement said.

11:17 a.m. ET, March 16, 2020

How Moscow is responding to the coronavirus outbreak

From CNN’s Nathan Hodge and Mary Ilyushina in Moscow


The Moscow mayor’s office announced new measures to combat the spread of coronavirus today. These include a ban on events with crowds larger than 50 people and mandatory self-isolation for those arriving from Europe, the UK and the US. 

The measures ban sporting events, public gatherings and entertainment involving more than 50 people. This will stay in place until April 10.

Schools and institutions of higher learning will be closed from this Saturday through April 12. 

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in a statement the measures were taken after 20 people fell ill with the virus in the city over the weekend.

“I ask parents whose children are not attending schools to prevent their appearance in shopping centers, parks and other public places,” he said. “Closing schools does not mean extra holiday, but voluntary self-isolation at home.”

Individuals arriving from United States, the UK, the European Union, Ukraine, Belarus and all European countries outside the EU must undergo a self-isolation at home for 14 days after arrival.

11:19 a.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Tokyo 2020 Olympics flame handover will be scaled down

The Olympic flame sits on a platform set up at Panathenaic Stadium in central Athens, on Saturday, March 14.
The Olympic flame sits on a platform set up at Panathenaic Stadium in central Athens, on Saturday, March 14. Kyodo News/Getty Images

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics flame handover ceremony in Athens this Thursday will be a scaled-down event with only a few Tokyo Games officials and torch bearers present to protect everyone from the coronavirus, the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) said on Monday.

The handover ceremony between the Hellenic Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 Organizers will take place inside the ancient Panathenaic Stadium in Athens – the site of the first modern Olympics in 1896.

The stadium is closed to the public to stop the spread of the virus.

The ceremony will include a dance with no more than 10 people and a torch relay with four people: Two from Greece and two from Japan, organizers said in a statemenmt.

The two torchbearers representing Japan will be Nomura Tadahiro and Yoshida Saori who won gold medals in three straight Olympic Games in the men's judo and women's wrestling, respectively.

Greece last week canceled the remainder of the domestic Olympic Torch Relay through the country to avoid attracting crowds just a day after the Olympic flame was lit in ancient Olympia.

11:02 a.m. ET, March 16, 2020

Tennessee closes all schools

From CNN's Devon Sayers and Jessica Jordan 

In this photo taken February 3, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chamber in Nashville. Lee declared a state of emergency Thursday, March 12, to help the state address the spread of the new coronavirus.
In this photo taken February 3, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee delivers his State of the State Address in the House Chamber in Nashville. Lee declared a state of emergency Thursday, March 12, to help the state address the spread of the new coronavirus. Mark Humphrey/AP

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced today that all schools statewide will be closing by this Friday in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak. 

"Every Tennessean has a role to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and I urge Tennesseans to be quick to help neighbors as new needs surface with the closure of schools," Lee said in a statement.

He added: "We understand the tremendous burden school closure places on families and we will continue to work with both the federal government and school districts to ensure we continue essential supports like meals for students in need."