But with different governments taking different approaches, many people have been left confused. If schools are shut in one country, is it really safe to send children into class in another? Why are restaurants shut but shops still open? Why are some countries advising non-essential travel while others are banning it?
The extent of the measures partly depends on the severity of the epidemic in each country. The British government, for example, justified its initial reluctance to impose restrictions by saying the country was behind the rest of the Europe in terms of the spread of the virus.
Elsewhere, though, the rules are not so stringent.
But Johnson said his government would not close schools, and would not enforce the new guidelines with fines or legal threats because, he said, the UK is “a mature and grown up democracy where people understand the advice being given to them.”
Meanwhile in France, the government has deployed 100,000 police officers to enforce the country’s coronavirus lockdown.
The French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner warned Monday that anyone leaving their homes would have to justify their movements.
“To do this, each person, for each movement, will need to take a document, stating on their honor, the reason of their movement,” he said, adding that holders of professional cards and certificates from their employers would be able to show those during police controls.
While the UK is still an outlier in Europe, the rest of the continent isn’t completely unified either.
A growing number of EU states including France, Spain and Denmark have taken the extraordinary step of completely shutting their land borders with other EU nations, but elsewhere within the bloc, internal borders remain open, meaning people can still travel from one country to another.
However, while some individual cities and states are taking drastic steps, others are taking a more relaxed approach to the crisis.
San Francisco issued strict “shelter in place” guidance, requiring the city’s residents to stay inside their homes, leaving only for essential needs such as grocery shopping, going to the police, bank, gas stations and pharmacies.
“Every state doing their own thing, different cities doing their own thing, it’s confusing, it’s chaos,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday night.
“The federal government should come up, step in, and say this is what we’re going to do,” Cuomo added. “This is what we do in schools, this is what we do in businesses, here are the rules and then the states can adjust the rules to their particular circumstances.”