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Macron says the EU's external borders will close for 30 days from noon on Tuesday

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Ursula von der Leyen
Ursula von der Leyen   -   Copyright  Virginia Mayo/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
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French President Emmanuel Macron says the EU will close its external borders for 30 days from noon on Tuesday.

In an address to the French nation on Monday evening, Macron confirmed European leaders had agreed on the move.

"All travel between non-European countries and EU countries will be suspended for 30 days," said Macron.

"French citizens who are abroad and who wish to come home will be able to do so," he said, demanding they contact French embassies or consulates.

The month-long restriction had been proposed by the European Commission earlier in the day to help contain the coronavirus outbreak and relieve the pressure on Europe's healthcare systems.

"We need to do more to reduce the huge pressure on our healthcare system," said European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen.

"Here in Europe, we are heavily affected by the virus. And we know that everything that reduces social interaction also reduces the speed of the spread of the virus. The less travel, the more we can contain the virus."

Von der Leyen says that people with long-term EU residency or who are family members of European citizens, plus diplomats, doctors and health care workers could be exempted from the ban. Transport workers could also be exempt to help keep goods flowing.

The EU said it also wants to bring in fast lanes at borders to give priority to essential medical supplies and goods.