French President Emmanuel Macron has ordered to shut down all schools and universities amid the Covid-19 outbreak – but has also rejected the idea of shutting down the national borders arguing that the virus has “no passport.”
Macron refused to commit to any border closures as he addressed the nation on Thursday, though he left the possibility open of doing so as part of an EU-wide agreement in the future.
“This virus does not have a passport,” Macron said, dissuading citizens from thinking in terms of national borders. “We will undoubtedly take measures to close borders, but only when it is relevant…It is at the European level that we have built our freedoms.”
Macron also called for the French to limit travel to what was strictly necessary, though he said public transportation would remain open. Municipal elections scheduled for the coming weekend would be held as normal.
The president also dangled hope of a cure for the virus, noting that “Europe has all the assets to offer the world, in the coming months, the antidote to Covid-19.”
Macron’s political rivals took the opportunity to air their grievances with the president’s handling of the crisis, Socialist Jean-Luc Melenchon observed that Macron “needed a global crisis” to realize that humanity has a higher value than markets. Republican Eric Ciotti called for closing the border with Italy, which has been hit harder by the coronavirus than any other country in Europe, declaring “the absence of ideological taboo must prevail.”
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