As virus rebounds in France, Macron bristles at border rules

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VILLENEUVE-LA-GARENNE, France (AP) – French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday urged European neighbors to better coordinate cross-border viral restrictions as infections rebounded – and several countries imposed tests or quarantines on French visitors. Amid fears that France could become a new virus hotspot, Macron defended his government’s pressure to restart the economy and its handling of the post-lockout period. Over the summer, the French have traveled the country for family reunions and dance parties accused of fueling the recent spike in cases.

“Our country must… learn to live with the virus” in order to repair the economy, finance social assistance like temporary unemployment benefits and educate its children, he said.

Paris has imposed mask requirements everywhere in public from Friday, and a fifth of France’s regions are now considered “red zones” where the virus is actively circulating. More than 6,000 new infections were reported Thursday, up from several hundred a day in May and June.

But hospitalizations and deaths remain relatively low, and the government is sticking to plans to reopen all of its schools from Tuesday, and the Tour de France begins its three-week trek across the country on Saturday.

Now that Britain, Germany and Belgium have imposed new restrictions on people arriving from all or part of France, Macron has called for better European coordination.

“Let’s have the same criteria,” he said on Friday. “Let’s not repeat the mistakes of March,” when chaotic one-sided border closures left lines of trucks stranded on the roads and stranded travelers.

He said closing the borders made “no sense”, especially for millions of workers in the EU’s no-travel zone who cross borders to work.

Speaking through a mask, he admitted that masks are “annoying, boring” but called it “a reasonable constraint that we should accept for a while” to get the economy going.

He also pledged 15 billion euros ($ 17.8 billion) of state investment in projects to return jobs and manufacturing in France. He spoke after the inauguration of a new production site at the Seqens pharmaceutical plant north of Paris.

France suffered from shortages of masks, drugs and other medical supplies at the height of the viral crisis, especially due to its dependence on suppliers in China.

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