All citizens have been ordered to stay home and will only be allowed out for “essential duties” such as trips to the grocery store or pharmacy, Macron told the nation on Monday.
The lockdown begins on Tuesday at noon. At the same time, France’s borders with the rest of the Schengen area – much of the EU – will be closed as well, the president announced.
“We are at war” he repeated several times, noting that France’s struggle is not against a nation or an army, but the “invisible enemy” of the covid-19 coronavirus, the rapidly spreading contagion rampaging through the EU.
Anyone defying the restrictions will be punished, Macron noted, without specifying whether the penalties will be civil or criminal.
”Not a single French company will go bankrupt. Not a single French person will go without help.”
However, the collection of utility bills – gas, electricity, water and rent – will also be suspended for the duration, as the Elysee Palace sought to temper the hardship imposed on France.
France has registered at least 6,633 cases of covid-19 as of Monday, with 148 fatalities. Macron admitted he did not know for how long the current situation will go on.
Previously, French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday condemned unilateral border control measures taken by some EU countries in a bid to control the coronavirus outbreak. The statement from the Elysee Palace came following a phone briefing with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU officials.