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Macron on fighting coronavirus: “We are in a health war”

Says EU to close all external borders for 30 days

The French President Emanuel Macron has moved on to become the first leader of a European Union Member State to confirm that the EU and Schengen Borders will close on Tuesday noon, upon a previous warning of the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

In a televised address to the nation, President Macron confirmed that the EU has taken a shared decision to suspend travel to and between Schengen countries for a month at least.

“We need to be able to protect ourselves and to stem the spread of this virus. We need to preserve our current medical system. This morning, as Europeans, we made a shared decision. As of tomorrow, midday, the European Union borders and the Schengen borders will be closed. Any travel between non-European and European countries will be suspended for the next 30 days,” Macron said.

He also explained that all French citizens will have to remain at home for two weeks, while those caught breaking this order will be punished, adding that the second round of local elections due to be held on March 22 would be postponed.

He also pointed out that gas, electricity, water bills and rent payments will also be suspended during the crisis.

“All over French territory, in mainland France as well as overseas, only necessary journeys must remain necessary,” he said.

“We are in a health war”, he added, highlighting the severity of the situation.

Earlier today, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she had proposed a travel ban to EU heads of states, which will be endorsed tomorrow at a summit of EU leaders, held via a video conference.
EU Countries Closing Their Borders Unilaterally

The move to seal off the EU and Schengen area internal and external borders came after the member states had started to take such measures unilaterally, introducing full or partial border checks and border closure.

On Friday, March 13, Slovakia, Malta and the Czech Republic announced they would close off their borders to fellow EU member states in an effort to try and stop the spread of the Coronavirus.

Whereas as of Monday, March 16, borders controls will be carried at the internal borders of Germany with Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Denmark to further reduce the risk of infection from the Coronavirus, under the decision of the Federal Interior Minister Seehofer.

The Estonian government also announced a decision to reintroduce border controls in all crossing points and restrict entry, as of March 17, following the example of other EU countries.

Last week, Macron himself urged the EU and Schengen Area Member Countries to tighten border controls in order to curb the further spreading of the novel Coronavirus, which has recently been announced as a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

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