Paris [France], Mar 17 (ANI): President Emmanuel Macron placed France on lockdown from Tuesday and banned the opening of all 'non-essential public places' including cafes, bars and restaurants to fight the spread of coronavirus.
In a televised speech Monday, Macron also promised to support French businesses by guaranteeing EUR300 billion worth of loans, as well as suspending rent and utility bills owed by small companies.
"No French company, whatever its size, will be exposed to the risk of collapse," he said.
"We owe the care of their children to our healthcare teams: a minimum service has been put in place, from today, in kindergartens and schools," Macron said.
"We also owe them peace in their travel and rest: this is why, from tomorrow onwards, taxis and hotels can be mobilized for their benefit. The state will pay."
Macron also said hospital masks will be rationed for healthcare workers.
"We have decided to reserve the masks as a priority for hospitals and for medical personnel in cities and in the countryside, especially for general practitioners and nurses, who are now at the front line of dealing with the crisis," he said in a tweet.
Macron announced measures to "severely restrict movements for the next 15 days at least", starting at midday Tuesday, and limit social contacts as much as possible.
Macron said the second round of municipal elections will be suspended, as will his government's controversial pension overhaul.
The French president said the EU's external borders will be shut for 30 days, but French nationals will be allowed home. Travel across the Schengen Area's internal borders will be severely restricted.
The President also said that "meeting with friends or going out for a walk in the park is also restricted, anyone not following these orders will be punished,"
France has so far reported more than 6,000 confirmed cases with at least 150 deaths. (ANI)