France Closes All Schools, May Shut Borders To Control Coronavirus Spread
France President Emmanuel Macron has said that the country will close all schools and universities across the country in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The President made the announcement of this new measure in a live television interview from the Élysée Palace in Paris earlier this evening, March 12.
He described the spread of the virus as the ‘greatest health crisis France has known for a century’ while stating that all schools, colleges and universities will close from Monday ‘until further notice’.
Macron explained that;
Despite our efforts, the virus is accelerating.It will hit the most vulnerable people first and we are taking great efforts to increase massively the capacity in our hospitals. We have to prepare for the second wave which will hit younger people. We have to prepare our emergency staff. We need to win time, but the priority is to protect the most vulnerable.
For our collective interest, from Monday and until further notice, nurseries, schools, colleges, high schools and universities will be closed. Closed for a simple reason: our children and our youngest, according to scientists, are the ones who seem to spread the virus the fastest.’
It is believed to be the first time that the entire education system in France has been shut in response to a national emergency.
The French President also warned that he may even be forced to shut the country’s borders, adding that ‘if necessary, we will close frontiers but only in co-ordination with the EU.’
Macron pledged to ‘massively increase’ the capacity of hospitals and called on people over the age of 70 to avoid contact with others as much as possible.
He asked businesses to allow employees to work from home and said that where necessary the state would take on their salaries in order to ease the economic impact.
Macron said that public transport would remain open and that the municipal elections will still go ahead on Sunday, March 15 despite concerns about voter turnout.
The country previously requisitioned all surgical masks for distribution to those who needed them with the government even capping the price of hand sanitizer.
The Paris Marathon and a Six Nations rugby match against Ireland have both been postponed until October.
The government has placed a ban on all public gatherings including markets, community groups and church services in four zones with clusters of coronavirus cases: Morbihan in Brittany, Haute-Savoie in eastern France near the Swiss border and the départements of Oise and Haut-Rhin in northeast France.
As of March 12, France has recorded 2,876 confirmed coronavirus cases, 61 deaths and 12 recovered cases.