France Imposes 15-day Lockdown Over Coronavirus, Macron Announces

March 16, 2020 Updated: March 16, 2020
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French President Emmanuel Macron announced Monday a full lockdown of France for 15 days after a recent spike in coronavirus cases.

No family or social gatherings are allowed, people have to walk to work if they can’t work from home, and local elections were canceled, the French president said in a televised address. Residents will be allowed to leave home for essential supplies and food.

People cannot stroll in the streets or in the park, and public transportation is now limited, Macron said. Residents need to stay home unless it’s absolutely necessary to leave, he said.

“We are at war,” Macron said of the new measures. It’s a “health war,” and the “enemy is here,” he said. The lockdown will start on Tuesday at 12 p.m. local time.

“Never before in history has France had to take such exceptional measures in a time of peace,” Macron said in the address. “You will no longer be able to see your loved ones… or continue your daily routine.”

It came about a week after Italy’s leadership implemented similar measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the Wuhan virus. Italy is now the worst-hit country in the world outside of China, having reported more than 2,000 deaths from the virus.

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A man wearing a mask walks pasts the Eiffel tower closed after the French government banned all gatherings of over 100 people to limit the spread of the virus COVID-19, in Paris, on March 14, 2020. (Christophe Ena/AP Photo)

Reports have said that all non-coronavirus-related legislative work has been stopped.

Spain has also put into place lockdown measures, banning Spanish residents from leaving their homes except for work, food, going to the hospital, or supporting a child or elderly person.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, France has reported about 127 deaths and more than 5,500 cases of the coronavirus.

“The number of cases doubles every three days. I want our citizens to realize that there are hundreds of people who are sick and in intensive care,” France’s director-general of health Jerome Salomon said over the weekend. “This is why we must do everything to slow down the outbreak.”

The European Union announced the closure of its borders for nonessential travel on Monday in an attempt to contain the virus for “an initial period of 30 days,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced, according to CNN.

Canada also announced it would suspend all travel into the country, allowing only citizens, permanent residents, and Americans to enter.