French President orders lockdown to fight coronavirus

French President Emmanuel Macron orders stringent restrictions on the movement of people in attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Emmanuel Macron addresses the nation on coronavirus
Emmanuel Macron addresses the nation on coronavirus

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday ordered stringent restrictions on the movement of people to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and said the army would be drafted in to help move the sick to hospitals, Reuters reported.

France had already shut down restaurants and bars, closed schools and put ski resorts off limits, but Macron said unprecedented measures were needed as the number of infected people doubled every three days and deaths spiralled higher.

In an address to the nation, Macron announced that as of midday on Tuesday, people should stay at home unless it was to buy groceries, travel to work, exercise or for medical care.

Anyone flouting the restrictions, in place for at least the next two weeks, would be punished.

"I know what I am asking of you is unprecedented but circumstances demand it," Macron said, according to Reuters.

"We're not up against another army or another nation. But the enemy is right there: invisible, elusive, but it is making progress."

He said tougher action was needed after too many people ignored earlier warnings and mingled in parks and on street corners over the weekend, risking their own health and the wellbeing of others.

More than 6,600 cases of coronavirus have been recorded in France so far. 148 people have died from the disease.

Under the new measures, soldiers would help transport the sick to hospitals with spare capacity and a military hospital with 30 intensive care beds would be set up in the eastern region of Alsace, where one of the largest infection clusters has broken out.

Macron said he was postponing the second round of local elections on Sunday and suspending his reform agenda, starting with his overhaul of the pension system.

The government would, when necessary, legislate by decree to fight the coronavirus, he added.