EMMANUEL Macron has put France on total lockdown with the country’s borders closed and socialising outside banned as he declared “we are at war” with coronavirus.
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Mr Macron said that “movements will be very strongly reduced” for 15 days starting at midday Tuesday.
He said people will only be permitted to leave their homes for necessary trips such as going to work or the supermarket.
People who break these restrictions will be “punished”, although the French leader did not elaborate further.
However, his Interior Minister Christophe Castaner later confirmed that anyone walking outside “for any reason” will have to download a form stating the reason for their trip.
If they do not comply with this they could be fined up to £188.
Mr Macron said the total lockdown has been put in place because people have not complied with earlier public health measures.
He added: “We are at war.”
Borders with other European countries will also be closed, although French nationals will be allowed to “return home.”
He also confirmed that entry into the European Union’s Schengen zone – the block’s free movement zone – will be closed from Tuesday .
This step was taken in coordination with the other EU members, he said.
Spain and Germany have already closed their borders to their neighbours as they battle against the virus.
Speaking about the ban on social gatherings outside, Mr Macron said: “Walking, meeting friends in the park or in the street will no longer be possible.
“It is a question of limiting as much as possible all contact beyond the home.
“All over French territory, in mainland France as well as overseas, only necessary journeys must remain necessary.”
Admitting that the economic cost would be enormous, he said: “All businesses must organise to facilitate remote work.
“And when that is not possible, they will have to adapt their organisation to enforce these new measures.”
French could be fined for walking outside
- Anyone leaving the house in France “for any reason” will have to download a form or risk a minimum £34.60 fine enforced by 100,000 police, the country’s Interior Minister said.
- Christophe Castaner said “essential professions” who can still enjoy easy travel include medical and postal workers, but few others.
- They will instead have to write “going out to buy a baguette” or “walking the dog” on an individual printed form every single time.
- Mr Castaner said: “We can always practice a physical activity or take our dog out, but everyone should do it sparingly, without meeting in a group.
- “We can get some fresh air yes, but certainly not play a football match. A control system will be set up by 100,000 police and gendarmes (armed officers).”
- Mr Castaner said the minimum fine would be €38 (£34.60) and that this would “rapidly rise” to €130 (£118) if it remained unpaid.
- The forms will be downloadable online from the website of the French Ministry of the Interior each night during a minimum lockdown of two weeks, starting at midday on Tuesday.
Government grants will be made available to those facing bankruptcy, while tax demands will be frozen with Macron insisting that no business will fold because of the lockdown.
Hotels and other private businesses will meanwhile be used by the government in order to help treat sufferers of the lethal virus with the President adding : “The state will pay.”
Cases in France have soared more than 5,000 and 127 people have died.
Similar lockdowns are in place in Spain and Italy.
Jérôme Salomon, the country’s Director General of Health, said that “the situation is extremely worrying and deteriorating very quickly”.
Despite measures brought in over the weekend including a ban on crowds of more than 100, and the closure of non-essential shops, people were still breaking the new rules.
Parks were full of Sunday, where food was still being sold in takeaway stalls, so “we cannot manage to slow down the march of the epidemic,” said Mr Salomon.
Mr Salomon said: “France will very quickly be overrun if people do not confirm to the new measures
“Cases are doubling every three days.”
Schools, colleges and universities were all shut down today, along with tourist attractions such as the Louvre museum and Eiffel Tower.
The Ile de France – which includes Paris – and Alsace in the east are the two regions currently worse hit by coronavirus in France, although there have been cases throughout the country.