US President Donald Trump on Sunday told the public to stop panic-buying and other supplies amid the coronavirus crisis as his response to the outbreak came under fire.
“You don’t have to buy so much. Just relax,” he said at a White House news conference.
“There’s no need for anybody in the country to hoard essentials,” Trump added.
His message came as people across the U.S. have cleared supermarket shelves of canned foods and toilet paper.
Earlier in the day, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio blasted the U.S. government’s response to the virus outbreak.
“If the federal government doesn’t realise this is the equivalent of a war already, there’s no way that the states and localities can make all the adjustments we need to,” de Blasio told broadcaster CNN.
Later on Sunday, de Blasio announced the closure of the country’s largest public school system from Monday until at least April 20.
It will affect nearly 1,900 schools in New York, as the city joins a growing number of communities and states to shutter schools in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
Starting at 9 am (1400GMT) on Tuesday, nightclubs, cinemas, and concert venues “must all close,” de Blasio tweeted.
“This is not a decision I make lightly.
“But our city is facing an unprecedented threat, and we must respond with a wartime mentality,” he wrote.
“Given the explosion of COVID-19 in our state and globally, I will sign a statewide emergency proclamation tomorrow to temporarily shut down restaurants, bars, and entertainment and recreational facilities,” Washington State Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement.
Inslee also said that “all gatherings with over 50 participants are prohibited” and that the measures would be effective immediately in King County, the heart of the state’s outbreak.