France imposes stricter restriction on people's movement
People's Daily Online
(Xinhua) 09:19, March 17, 2020
PARIS, March 16 (Xinhua) -- At war against coronavirus, French citizens should stay home with their movement being greatly reduced starting from Tuesday noon for at least 15 days, President Emmanuel Macron announced on Monday evening.
"We are at war," said Macron in a televised address to the nation. "Outdoor gatherings, family or friend gatherings will no longer be allowed. Walking, meeting friends in parks, on the street, will no longer be possible. It is a question of limiting contact as much as possible."
Across the country, all nurseries and schools have been closed since last week. Since Sunday, all non-essential businesses have been closed till further notice, except food stores, pharmacies, tobacco shops and petrol stations.
"France is going through a difficult time. No one can forecast how long it will last... We have to adapt," said Macron, repeatedly urging the French to comply with the social distancing instructions given by health experts.
The new measure means that people can not go out except for necessary reasons. Violations of new rules on fighting virus "will be punished," said the president.
Marcon also announced a series of measures aimed at supporting healthcare workers, including the possibility of mobilizing taxis and hotels.
"We owe them (health workers) calm in their movements and rest. This is why I decided that, starting from tomorrow, taxis and hotels can be mobilized for their benefit. The State will pay," he said.
Protective masks will be delivered "as of Wednesday" in "the 25 departments (regions) most affected" by the coronavirus epidemic.
To help businesses live through the hard time, the president announced a suspension of "bills for water, gas, electricity as well as rents" for small-and-medium-sized enterprises and "a state guarantee" of 300 billion-euro bank loans for enterprises to avoid brankrupcy.
The second round of municipal elections, previously scheduled for March 22, will be postponed. All reforms, starting from the controversial pension reform that has brought hundreds of thousands of French into demonstrations, will be suspended.
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