France will deploy 100,000 police officers along fixed checkpoints around the country to enforce President Emmanuel Macron’s two-week lockdown order, the latest dramatic measure taken to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Anyone caught violating the far-reaching restrictions “must be able to justify the reason for their movements,” or will face legal penalties, including a fine of up to €135, Castaner said.
Some “exceptions may be tolerated,” Castaner added, including “travel between home and work, for shopping, for health reasons, for the assistance of vulnerable people, for parents or for short trips.”
Pedestrians and drivers will be required to obtain permits to travel, which will be presented to police manning a network of checkpoints throughout France. The minister noted that police and gendarmes only – not military personnel – will enforce the restrictions.
President Macron declared “war” on the lethal outbreak in a national address earlier on Monday, ordering all citizens to remain indoors during a nationwide lockdown that begins Tuesday. Travel will be permitted only for “essential duties,” such as trips to the pharmacy or grocery store, while France’s borders with neighboring countries in the Schengen area, which includes most of the European Union, will also close.
Under the new measures, soldiers would help transport the sick to hospitals with spare capacity and a military hospital with 30 intensive-care beds would be set up in the eastern region of Alsace, where one of the largest infection clusters has broken out.
Seeking to offer further reassurance to businesses, Macron said the government would guarantee 300 billion euros worth of loans. The loan guarantee plan would be submitted to parliament in coming weeks and would be retroactive, a finance ministry source said.
Rent and utility bills owed by small companies would also be suspended to help them weather the economic storm, he added.