200316 Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron is seen on a television screen as he speaks during a televised address to the nation on the outbreak of COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus, on March 16, 2020, in Paris. Image Credit: AFP

Paris: President Emmanuel Macron on Monday ordered people to stay at home from midday Tuesday except for necessary reasons such as shopping, saying any violations of the stricter rules to battle the coronavirus would be punished.

In a 20-minute address to the nation, he said the French had to "severely restrict movements for the next 15 days at least" and limit social contacts as much as possible. Any violation of this new regime would be "punished," he said.

Macron, who repeatedly said France was "at war" with the virus, also announced that the second round of local elections due to be held on March 22 would be postponed. He added that the EU had agreed to shut its external borders for the next 30 days.

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