France to close schools to battle virus

Sudip Kar-Gupta and Christian Lowe
President Emmanuel Macron has announced the closure of all French schools and nurseries from Monday

France will from next week close all creches, schools and universities to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus, President Emmanuel Macron has announced in a televised address.

Describing the outbreak as France's biggest public health crisis in a century, Macron also urged employers to let staff work from home, and said that the elderly and people with health conditions should stay indoors.

He said, however, that municipal elections scheduled for this weekend should go ahead.

He said that to ease the economic impact, the state would take over paying salaries of people forced to stop work, and that businesses would not have to pay taxes due in March.

On the European level, he said the latest measures to support the economy unveiled by the European Central Bank were not sufficient, and that he would work with European partners on a major package to relaunch the economy "whatever it costs".