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France closes borders, begins social aid to public

In address to nation, President Macron orders borders shut but promises economic aid for continuation of life

Cindi Cook   | 17.03.2020
France closes borders, begins social aid to public A woman wears face mask as a precaution against coronavirus (COVID-19) in Paris, France on March 15, 2020. ( Julien Mattia - Anadolu Agency )


President Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation Monday evening, issuing strong words and communicating closed borders to a wary French public that is now witnessing social norms more fit for wartime than one of peace.

Despite a lack of real combat, the president issued a battle cry of his own.

"We are at war," he said, "in the health war, of course, we are fighting neither against armies nor against another nation. But the enemy is there, invisible, and it is progressing."

The president repeatedly emphasized being "en guerre" or at war, his stern language forming directives that he said must be adhered to when it comes to social interaction on all levels.

"I call on all political, economic, social, and associated actors to join this national union. We are at war."

Macron said gatherings, both familial and professional, "will no longer be allowed," warning that those still venturing to parks and public spaces – in defiance of instructions not to – will only perpetuate the danger of spreading infection.

Macron's biggest announcement said that as of noon Tuesday, the borders to the entrance to the European Union and the Schengen area will be closed. All travel between European countries will be suspended.

Starting Tuesday, Macron will issue safeguards for the public: All electricity, gas, and rental bills will be suspended for companies.

"The partial unemployment system will be massively extended," he added. "For entrepreneurs, a solidarity fund will be created. "

The president assured that medical equipment will also make its way throughout France, saying masks will be delivered Tuesday to the 25 most-affected departments, and on Wednesday to the rest of the nation.

"No Frenchwoman, no Frenchman will be left without resources."

Mr. Macron also suspended the next round of local elections until a later date (undetermined as of now). They were to take place next Sunday.

As of late Monday, France reports 6,633 infected and 148 dead, an increase in 21 deaths and 1,210 cases over yesterday.

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