In an address to the nation on the fight against COVID-19 which has already killed 61 people and infected almost 2,900 in France, Macron made clear that it could no longer be business as usual.
Creches, schools and universities would close from Monday “until further notice”, Macron said, describing the novel coronavirus as France’s most serious health crisis for a century.
But the president also announced that nationwide local elections scheduled for Sunday will not be postponed.
“We are just at the beginning of this crisis,” Macron said.
“In spite of all our efforts to break it, this virus is continuing to propagate and to accelerate.”
From Monday, “and until further notice, all creches, schools, middle schools, high schools and universities will be closed,” he said.
Macron asked all people older than 70, those who suffer chronic diseases, respiratory troubles and the handicapped, “to stay at home” if possible.
As for the elections, Macron said he had consulted scientists and other experts who were of the opinion that “there is nothing to prevent the French, even the most vulnerable, from going to the ballot box.”
The French president said Europe will have to react “fast, and strongly” to “relaunch” the economy in the wake of the epidemic, adding that any steps to close borders will have to be jointly decided “at the European level”.
He said the measures against the virus were needed so that “we continue to win time against this epidemic” which he emphasised “has no passport”.