"We are at war" with COVID-19, says President in national broadcast

Speech by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, on the COVID-19 coronavirus

Paris, 16 March 2020

Women and men of France,

On Thursday night I spoke to you about the health crisis that our country is confronting. Up until that point, for some of you the epidemic was maybe a distant notion; it has become an immediate and pressing reality.

As I announced, the Government has taken strong measures to slow the spread of the virus. Nurseries, primary and secondary schools and universities are closed as from today. On Saturday evening, restaurants and all shops not considered to be essential for the life of the Nation also closed their doors. Gatherings of over 100 people were also prohibited. France has never had to make such decisions – which are, of course, exceptional and temporary – in peacetime. They were taken in an orderly, prepared way, based on scientific recommendations and with one sole objective: to protect us from the spread of the virus.

During the day on Thursday, a scientific and political consensus formed around maintaining the first round of the local elections and, together with the Prime Minister, I made the decision to continue with the vote. Yesterday, Sunday, the vote therefore went ahead. I would like this evening to thank the State services, mayors, all of the town hall services and all those who ran the polling stations thereby enabling this vote to go ahead. I would also like to extend my warm thanks to the French people who, despite the context, went out to vote, in strict accordance with the health recommendations, and the anti-virus barrier actions. Tonight, I would also like to congratulate, on behalf of the Republic, the candidates who were elected during the first round. Approximately 30,000 communes out of 35,000 have a municipal council after this first round vote. But, at the same time, while healthcare workers on intensive care wards were warning us all about the seriousness of the situation, we also saw people gathering in parks, packed markets, restaurants and bars which did not respect the instructions to close. As if life hadn’t really changed.

To all those who, by behaving like this, defied the instructions, I would very clearly like to say this evening: not only are you not protecting yourselves – and recent trends suggest that everyone is vulnerable to this virus, including the youngest in society – but you are failing to protect others. Even if you have no symptoms, you can transmit the virus. Even if you have no symptoms, you risk infecting your friends, your parents, your grandparents, and endangering the health of those who are dear to you.

In the Grand Est, Hauts-de-France and Île-de-France regions, our healthcare workers are fighting to save lives with dedication and strength. At a time when the health situation is worsening fast, when pressure on our hospitals and healthcare workers is growing, all of our commitment, energy and strength must be focused on one sole objective: slowing the spread of the virus.

I would like to repeat this with conviction tonight: we must respect the barrier actions and healthcare instructions. It is the only way to protect vulnerable individuals, to infect fewer of our fellow citizens and therefore reduce the pressure on our intensive care services so that they can take in more patients and provide them with more effective treatment.

Without serious symptoms, we should contact our general practitioner. You must not call the emergency services or go to hospital unless you have a high fever or difficulties breathing, otherwise they will not be able to deal with the wave of serious cases which is already on the horizon in some regions.

We must show solidarity and a sense of responsibility. Each and every one of us must at all costs limit the number of people with whom they are in contact every day. Scientists have told us that this is our absolute priority. This is why, after having consulted and listened to the experts, those on the ground, with my eyes open I have decided to further strengthen the measures to limit our movements and contact to what is strictly necessary. From noon tomorrow and for 15 days at least, our movements will be seriously reduced.

This means that gatherings outside the home and meetings with family and friends will no longer be allowed. It will no longer be possible to meet with friends in the park or in the street. We must limit our contact outside our homes as much as possible. Across French territory, in metropolitan France and the Overseas Territories, we must only go out if necessary, to go food shopping, adopting a disciplined approach and keeping a minimum of one metre between each other, not shaking hands, not hugging each other, to seek medical care, of course, to go to work if it is not possible to work from home and to do some sport but without, once again, meeting friends or loved ones. All businesses must organize themselves to facilitate working from home and, where this is not possible, they must adapt their organization, from tomorrow, to comply with the anti-virus barrier actions, to protect their workers, or, for the self-employed, to protect themselves. The Government will set out the precise procedures for these new rules this evening, after my speech. Any violation of these rules will result in a fine. It is with great solemnity, this evening, that I say we must listen to our healthcare workers who are telling us: if you want to help us, you must stay at home and limit your contact with others. This is the most important thing. Obviously, this evening, I am setting out new rules, we are imposing prohibitions and they will be enforced. But the best rule is the rule that you, as citizens, impose on yourselves. Once again, I am appealing to your sense of responsibility and solidarity.

In this context, after consulting the President of the Senate, the President of the National Assembly and also my predecessors, I have decided that the second round of the local elections will be postponed. This very day, the Prime Minister informed the party leaders represented in Parliament of this. The decision met with unanimous agreement.

My dear compatriots, I appreciate the impact of all these decisions on your lives. Giving up seeing your loved ones is a wrench; stopping your everyday activities and habits is very difficult. That mustn’t prevent us from staying in touch, calling our families and friends, providing updates, as well as organizing things with our neighbours, devising new forms of solidarity between generations, and remaining – as I told you last Thursday – extremely supportive, and being innovative on that point too. I know I’m asking you to stay at home. I’m also asking you to stay calm in this situation. In recent hours I’ve seen panic manifesting itself in every sphere. We must all have a spirit of responsibility. Fake news must not circulate left, right and centre. When staying at home, take care of your loved ones in your flat, in your house. Provide updates, receive updates. Read, and also regain a sense of what really matters. I think that’s important in the times we’re living in. Culture, education and a sense of what things mean is important. And avoid panicking, believing every false rumour and pseudo-expert. The words are clear, the information is transparent and we’ll continue to provide it. But believe me, I know this effort I’m asking of you is unprecedented, but the circumstances oblige us to make it.

We are at war, admittedly a health war: we’re fighting neither an army nor another nation. But the enemy is there, invisible, elusive, and it’s making headway. And that requires our widespread mobilization.

We are at war. All the action of the Government and Parliament must now be geared towards combating the epidemic. Both day and night, nothing must divert us from this. That’s why I’ve decided that all the reforms under way will be suspended, beginning with the pensions reform. On Tuesday, at the Council of Ministers, a bill will be presented enabling the Government to respond to the emergency and, when necessary, legislate through ordinances in areas strictly related to crisis management. That bill will be submitted to Parliament on Thursday.

Earlier I saw the Presidents of the National Assembly and Senate to ensure that these texts can be voted on as quickly as possible, and also so that democratic life and parliamentary scrutiny can continue in this period. I thank them for it, and I thank all our members of Parliament at this time.

We are at war. I call on all the political, economic, social and charity stakeholders and all French people to be part of this national unity that has enabled our country to overcome so many crises in the past.

We are at war. The Nation will support its children – healthcare professionals in towns and cities, in hospitals – who are in the front line of a battle that will demand their energy, determination and solidarity. We owe them this. We also, obviously, owe them resources and protection. We shall be there. We owe them masks, gel, all the necessary material; we’re ensuring and will ensure this. Together with the scientists, we’ve decided to reserve masks first and foremost for hospitals and for urban and rural medicine, particularly GPs and nurses, who are now also in the front line of managing the crisis. Tomorrow evening, masks will be delivered to chemists’ shops in the 25 most affected departments, and on Wednesday in the rest of the country. I’ve also heard the message from specialists, in particular dental surgeons and many others. Solutions will be found together with the Health Minister in the next few hours.

We also have a duty to healthcare professionals to look after their children: a basic childcare service is in place from today in nurseries and schools. We also owe them peaceful journeys and rest. I’ve therefore decided that, as of tomorrow, taxis and hotels can be made available for them. The State will pay.

Yes, we’re at war. During this period, the country will support the regions most affected today and those which will be tomorrow. In this respect, I want to reassure residents and healthcare professionals in the Grand Est region that we will be equal to the task in helping them cope with the influx of patients and hospitals becoming saturated. I know what they’ve been experiencing for days and days; we are with them. Because of this, I’ve decided that an armed forces health service field hospital will be deployed in Alsace in the coming days. The armed forces will also lend their support in moving patients from the most affected regions, thus reducing congestion in hospitals in certain areas.

We’re at war. As I told you on Thursday, to protect ourselves and contain the spread of the virus, but also to protect our care system, we took a joint decision with the other Europeans this morning. From noon tomorrow, borders into the European Union and Schengen Area will be closed. In concrete terms, all travel between non-European countries and the European Union will be suspended for 30 days. French people currently abroad who wish to return home will of course be able to re-enter their country.

We must take this decision because I’m asking you this evening to make significant efforts and because we must protect ourselves over the long term. I want to say to all our compatriots living abroad that, again, in an orderly way, they must contact embassies and consulates and we’ll organize, for those who wish and when necessary, their repatriation. As you’ll have understood and sensed, this unprecedented health crisis will have major human, social and economic consequences. This is also the challenge we have to meet.

I’m asking you to make sacrifices to slow the epidemic. Never must these undermine assistance to the most vulnerable, the long-term future of businesses, or employees’ and self-employed workers’ livelihoods. For those in the most precarious situations, for the most destitute, for isolated people, we’ll ensure, with the major charities and local authorities and their services, that they can be fed, protected and that the services we owe to them are ensured.

As regards economic life, as far as France is concerned, no business, whatever its size, will be exposed to any risk of bankruptcy. No French person will be left without any means of support.

When it comes to businesses, we’re putting in place exceptional measures to postpone tax and social charges, support the deferral of scheduled bank repayments and provide a guarantee scheme of up to €300 billion for banks [on their loans to companies]. For the smallest of them and for as long as the situation lasts, those facing difficulties will not have to pay anything out as regards taxes or social contributions. Water, gas and electricity bills and rent payments will have to be suspended.

Moreover, in order for no one to be left without means of support, for employees the short-time working mechanism will be massively extended, as I announced to you last Thursday and as the Government has started to specify. For entrepreneurs, traders and self-employed non-professionals, a solidarity fund will be created, funded by the State, and the Prime Minister will also suggest the regions contribute to this. From tomorrow, the Government will provide details of all these measures. They’ll be dependent on the needs, the economic realities, the requirements sector by sector, obviously tailored [to each sector]. We shall deliver, to ensure that our economy is protected in this very tough period and that all workers can also have that security in terms of purchasing power and continuity in their lives.

My dear compatriots, France is going through a very difficult time. No one can predict its precise duration. As the days go by and problems give way to more problems, we’ll have to adapt, in line with the clarifications given by the scientists and experience on the ground. We’ll also continue, in this period, to work and make progress on treatments.

I’m aware of the dedication of several teams throughout our country, and the first rays of hope, and we’ll also continue making progress on the vaccine. I’ll address you regularly. Each time, as I’ve done and as the Government is doing, I’ll tell you the truth about the developing situation.

I’m certain of one thing: the more quickly we act together, the more we’ll overcome this ordeal. The more we act as citizens, the more we show the same strength of mind, the same patriotic self-sacrifice currently being shown by our care professionals, our firefighters and all those involved in the emergency services, the sooner we’ll emerge from this life in slow motion. We’ll get there, my dear compatriots, by being united and mutually supportive. I ask you to be responsible, all together, and not give in to any panic, to accept these constraints, uphold them, explain them, apply them to yourselves – we’ll all apply them to ourselves, there will be no special favours – but there again, not to give in to panic or to disorder. We shall win, but this period will have taught us a great deal. Many certainties and strong beliefs are being swept away and will be called into question. Many things we thought impossible are happening. Let’s not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed. Let’s take strong action, but let’s remember: the day after, when we’ve won, it won’t be a return to the day before. We’ll be stronger morally, we will have learned, and I too, together with you, will accept all the consequences, all the consequences.

Let us rise, individually and collectively, to this occasion.

I know, my dear compatriots, that I can count on you.

Long live the Republic, long live France!./.

COVID-19 – Statement to the French people by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, on the COVID-19 coronavirus

Paris, 12 March 2020

(Check against delivery)

Men and women of France, my dear compatriots,

Over the past few weeks, our country has been confronted with the spread of a virus, COVID-19, which has affected several thousand of our fellow citizens. First and foremost, my warmest thoughts naturally go out this evening to the families and loved ones of our victims. This epidemic, which is affecting every continent and striking every European country, is the most serious health crisis France has experienced in a century. In the vast majority of cases, COVID-19 does not pose a threat, but the virus can have very serious consequences, especially for those of our fellow citizens who are elderly or suffer from chronic illnesses such as diabetes, obesity or cancer.

We have been making preparations and taking action for several weeks now. Hospital staff, doctors, nurses, paramedics, emergency medical personnel, hospital workers, private physicians, and the entire staff of France’s Public Health Service are working assiduously and effectively. If we have been able to slow the spread of the virus and limit the most severe cases, it is thanks to them, because they all answered the call. They all agreed to take time out of their personal and family lives for the sake of our health. That is why, in your name, I would like first of all to express the nation’s gratitude to these white-coated heroes, these thousands of admirable men and women whose only ambition is to provide care, whose only concern is the human being, our well-being and – quite simply – our lives.

This evening I also want to applaud your cool-headedness. With the spread of the virus you may have felt concern or anxiety for yourselves and your loved ones, and that is perfectly justified. But you have faced the situation without yielding to anger or panic. Even better, by taking the right steps, you have slowed the spread of the virus, allowing our hospitals and caregivers to become better prepared. That is what makes a great nation. Men and women able to place the collective interest above everything, a community of human beings held together by values: solidarity and fraternity.

But, my dear compatriots, I want to tell you this evening with great seriousness and in all honesty that, even with a collective will to be well organized, we are only at the beginning of this epidemic. It is accelerating and intensifying throughout Europe. Our absolute priority for our nation is therefore our health. I will spare no effort in this regard.

In determining which actions to take, we are guided by one principle, one that has guided us from the beginning in anticipating this crisis and managing it over the past few weeks, and will continue to do so: our trust in science. Listening to those who know. The greatest European specialists spoke out this morning in an important publication. Today, with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Health, I convened our Scientific Committee. In France we have the best virologists, the best epidemiologists, specialists of great renown and clinicians too, and people who are on the ground, all of whom we listen to, as we have done since day one. They have all told us that despite all our efforts to stop it, the virus is continuing to spread and is in the process of accelerating. We knew this, we were afraid of this.

What might happen is that the illness will first affect those who are most vulnerable. Many of them will need appropriate hospital care, often respiratory support. That is why – and I will come back to this in a moment – we are taking very strong measures to massively increase capacity at our hospitals, because it will be a challenge to continue treating other illnesses. It also means preparing for a possible second wave that, in much smaller numbers, will affect younger people who have, a priori, had less exposure to the disease but who will also require treatment.

In this context, the most urgent need is to protect those of our fellow citizens who are most vulnerable. The most urgent need is to slow the epidemic in order to protect our hospitals, our emergency and life support services, and our caregivers who, as I explained, will have to treat more and more affected patients. These are our priorities. That is why we must continue to buy time and monitor those who are most fragile. Protecting the vulnerable first is our absolute priority.

That is why this evening I am asking all those above 70, those who suffer from chronic illnesses or respiratory conditions, and those with disabilities to stay home as much as possible. They may of course leave their homes to do their shopping and get some fresh air, but they must limit their contact with other people as much as possible. In this context, I have asked scientists about our municipal elections, whose first round will be held in a few days. They believe there is no reason for the French, even the most vulnerable, to refrain from voting. I also asked the Prime Minister to consult broadly with all political parties, which he did again this morning, and they all expressed the same wish. But it is important to strictly comply with steps taken to prevent the virus and health recommendations. I have faith in the mayors and in the civic-mindedness of each one of you. I also know that the mayors and government agencies have done a good job of organizing things. Strengthened guidelines will be provided starting tomorrow to ensure that our elderly do not have to wait for a long time, that adequate distances are respected, and that measures to prevent transmission are respected. But it is important, at this time, and while following scientists’ advice as we have just done, to ensure the continuity of our democratic life and our institutions. In short, the top priority today is to protect the weakest, those whom this epidemic is affecting first. The second priority is to slow the epidemic. Why? As the Minister of Health and the Director-General for Health have explained several times, to avoid a large number of patients in respiratory distress in our emergency and life support services. We must continue to buy time and in order to do so, I am going to ask you to continue making sacrifices, and in fact to make even more, for the sake of our collective interest.

Starting on Monday and until further notice, childcare centres, elementary and secondary schools and universities will be closed for one simple reason: according to scientists, our children, including our youngest, are those who seem to spread the virus most quickly, even though they may not have symptoms and fortunately do not seem to be suffering from acute forms of the illness. This is both to protect them and to reduce the spread of the virus throughout our country.

Childcare arrangements will be put in place in each region; we will find the best way to ensure that the children of essential health crisis-management personnel will be looked after so that they will still be able to go to work to protect you and care for you. The Government will work out this system in the coming days with all the elected representatives and officials in our country.

Where possible, I am asking companies to allow their employees to work remotely. Our ministers have already announced this; we have done a lot to help develop teleworking. This must be continued, expanded as far as possible. Public transport will be maintained, because stopping that would mean stopping everything, including the ability to seek treatment. But here again, I am appealing to your sense of responsibility and I urge all French citizens to avoid all unnecessary movement. The government will also announce measures to limit gatherings as much as possible.

At the same time, our health system, notably intensive care units, should prepare to receive increasingly serious cases of COVID-19 and continue to treat other patients. Beds must be made available in our hospitals. To achieve that, all national hospital capacity and as many doctors and nurses as possible will be mobilized. We will also mobilize students and young retirees. Exceptional measures will be taken in this respect. Many of them have already started. I would like to thank them. A few days ago, at the Paris emergency medical services centre, I witnessed a wonderful, moving and extraordinary mobilization effort by students, who, a few months away from taking their examinations, were there to respond to calls, to help, and by doctors who had just retired and had returned to lend their assistance We will make this the norm by taking the right measures. At the same time, non-essential care at hospitals will be postponed, i.e. operations that are not urgent, anything that can help us buy more time. Health does not have a price. The government will mobilize all necessary financial resources to provide assistance, to treat patients, to save lives, regardless of the cost. We will retain many of the decisions that we are now taking, many of the changes that we are now making, because we are also learning from this crisis, because our healthcare professionals are incredible in terms of innovation and commitment, and we will learn from what we are doing and we will come out of the situation with an even stronger health system.

Our researchers are also part of this broad effort. Many French and European programmes, clinical trials, are under way in order to provide, in sufficient quantities, fast, effective and efficient diagnoses. We will make improvements in this area, and work has been initiated at the national as well as European level. Our professors, with the support of private stakeholders, are already working on several treatment options in Paris, Marseille, Lyon, and elsewhere. Protocols have been initiated. I hope that in the next few weeks and months, we will have the first treatment available which we will be able to make widely available. Europe has the necessary resources in order to provide the world with an antidote for COVID-19. Teams are also working hard to invent a vaccine. It will not be available for several months, but it is very promising. French and European research efforts are also key, and I will continue to intensify them.

This ordeal also requires social mobilization to help the most disadvantaged, the most vulnerable people. The suspension of tenant evictions during the winter period will be extended by two months and I am asking the government to take exceptional measures to help the most disadvantaged in this respect. Lastly, the ordeal we are experiencing calls for collective efforts on the economic front. I know that restaurant owners, merchants, artisans, hotel owners and tourism, cultural, event and transport professionals are suffering. Entrepreneurs are worried about their order books, and all of you are worried about your jobs, your buying power. I know, it’s a legitimate concern. With the decisions that I have just announced this evening, these economic concerns will obviously increase.

We will not add the fear of bankruptcy for entrepreneurs, concerns about unemployment and the challenge of making ends meet at the end of the month to the health worries. Every effort will therefore be made to protect our employees and to protect our companies, regardless of the cost. In the next few days, a special large-scale partial unemployment mechanism will be introduced. Initial announcements have been made by our ministers. We will go much further than that. The government will compensate workers forced to stay at home. In this respect, I would like to draw inspiration from the system implemented by Germany, which is more generous and simpler than ours. I want us to be able to preserve jobs and skills, i.e. ensure that employees can stay with their companies, even if they are forced to stay at home, and that we will pay them. I also want us to be able to protect our freelance workers. We will take all necessary measures to provide this guarantee on the economic front.

All companies that wish to do so will be able, without any justification, special procedures or penalties, to defer the payment of taxes and contributions due in May. We will then work on the measures needed for debt forgiveness or rescheduling, but I know that we always take too long to do that. I want simple measures in order to rebuild our economic strength. Payments that are due in the next few days and weeks will be deferred for all those who need it. We will protect all of our companies, large and small. We will protect all of our workers. At the same time, I have asked the government to prepare, as of now, a national and European recovery plan consistent with our priorities and commitments for the future.

We must also provide a European response. The Central Bank has already, today, shared its preliminary decisions. Will they be enough? I don’t think so. It will be up to the bank to take further decisions. But I want to be very clear with you this evening: We Europeans will not allow a financial and economic crisis to spread. We will react aggressively and swiftly. All European governments must take decisions to support economic activity and recovery, regardless of the cost. France will do so and I will present this policy on your behalf at the European level. I already did so at the special council yesterday. I don’t know how the financial markets will respond in the next few days and I will be just as clear on this. Europe will respond in an organized way and on a massive scale in order to protect its economy. I also want us to be able to take international measures, and I call on the G7 and G20 powers to assume their responsibilities. I will speak with President Trump tomorrow in order to propose an exceptional initiative between the G7 members, since he holds the presidency. It will be our ability to work together to get things right early on and to take action together that will help us address what is now a global crisis, not division.

My dear compatriots, all these measures are necessary for everyone’s safety and I ask you to get behind them. Indeed, we will not be able to overcome a crisis of such magnitude without standing together. We will not be able to overcome a crisis of such magnitude without great individual and collective discipline, without unity. I’m hearing a vast array of opinions in our country today. Some people are saying, “you’re not doing enough” and would like to close everything and are worried about everything and some think that the danger doesn’t affect them. I have tried to present to you this evening the policies that should apply to our entire country. My dear compatriots, we must avoid two pitfalls.

First, being too centred on national interests. This virus doesn’t have a passport. We need to join forces, coordinate our responses and cooperate. France is ready to set to work. European coordination is essential, and I’ll ensure this happens. We’ll probably have to adopt measures, but they must be adopted to reduce interactions between affected and unaffected areas. We aren’t necessarily talking about national borders. We mustn’t take the easy option or panic in any way. We’ll probably have to adopt control measures, border closures, but we’ll have to adopt them when they’re appropriate, we’ll have to adopt them as Europeans, Europe-wide, because that’s the level at which we’ve built our freedoms and protections.

The other danger would be that of being too centred on individual self-interest. We can never overcome such difficulties on our own. On the contrary, it’s by standing shoulder to shoulder and saying “we” rather than thinking “I” that we’ll meet this huge challenge. This is why I want to tell you this evening that I’m counting on you in the coming days, weeks and months. I’m counting on you because the Government can’t do everything alone and because we’re a nation. Everyone has their role to play. I’m counting on you to follow current and future guidelines issued by the authorities, particularly the well-known “barrier actions” to combat the virus. Even now, these are inadequately applied. It means washing your hands long enough with soap or anti-bacterial gel. It means greeting people without kissing them or shaking their hand to avoid passing on the virus. It means keeping a distance of a metre away. These actions may seem insignificant to you. They save lives. This is why, my dear compatriots, I solemnly urge you to adopt them.

Every one of us plays a part protecting others, starting with our loved ones. I’m also counting on you to care for those of our compatriots who are most vulnerable. Don’t visit elderly people. I’m well aware that this will break people’s hearts. But it’s necessary temporarily. Write, phone, ask how they are and protect [them] by restricting visits. Yes, I’m also counting on you to help out neighbours if they’re medical staff and need to find a way of getting their children looked after so they can go off to work and care for others. I’m counting on businesses to help all employees who can work from home to do so. I’m counting on us all to create new forms of solidarity at this time. In this respect I’m asking the Government to work towards this with social partners and voluntary organizations. This crisis must provide the opportunity for a national mobilization of solidarity between generations. We have the ability to do this. Efforts are already being made on the ground. We can be even stronger if we act together.

I’m also obviously counting on all our care professionals. I know everything they’ve done already, I know what they’ve still got to do. The Government and I will be there, we’ll shoulder all our responsibilities for you. I’m thinking of all our medical staff in hospitals, who will have to deal with the most serious cases but also many emergencies. I’m thinking of doctors, nurses and all care professionals who aren’t in hospitals and are working tremendously hard and whom we’re going to be calling on increasingly in the coming weeks.

I know I can count on you. The Health Minister will also have the opportunity in the next few hours to set out regulations so we can help protect you effectively against the virus. This is out of our respect for you and is obviously what the Nation owes you. The regulations will be clear for everyone; they will also be in proportion and explained.

I’m counting on all of you basically to come together as a nation. To show the best of ourselves, to show that generous spirit which, in the past, allowed France to face the toughest ordeals.

My dear compatriots, tomorrow we shall have to learn the lessons of the time we’re living through, question the development model our world has adopted for decades – whose failings are being exposed for all to see – and question the weaknesses of our democracies. What this pandemic is already revealing is that free healthcare not conditional on people’s income, history or profession, and our welfare state, are not costs or burdens but precious assets, essential strengths when destiny strikes. What this pandemic is revealing is that there are goods and services that must be placed outside the laws of the market. Delegating to others our food, our protection, our ability to care and ultimately our quality of life is madness. We must take back control of them and build, even more than we are already doing, a sovereign France and Europe, a France and Europe that hold their destiny firmly in their hands. The coming weeks and months will require unprecedented decisions to this effect. I shall take responsibility for them.

But today is the time for protecting our fellow citizens and for the Nation’s cohesion. It’s the time for that sacred unity which consists in following the same path together, not panicking, being afraid or complacent, but regaining that strength of mind which has enabled our people to overcome so many crises throughout history.

A united France is our best asset in the troubled period we are living through. We shall all stand together.

Long live the Republic!

Long live France!./.

Published on 20/03/2020

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