French President Macron says closing borders with Italy 'a bad decision'

President Emmanuel Macron said France, which also shares a long border with Italy, did not yet need containment measures as drastic as those taken in Italy or China.
President Emmanuel Macron said France, which also shares a long border with Italy, did not yet need containment measures as drastic as those taken in Italy or China.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday (March 10) that Slovenia and Austria had made "bad decisions" by severely restricting travel with neighbouring Italy.

"I sincerely believe that these are bad decisions," Macron said following crisis talks on the virus with other EU leaders via video conference.

Slovenia on Tuesday said it would close its 232-kilometre-long border with Italy, while Austria ordered a halt to flights and trains to the country that is the worst hit by the virus outside of China.

Mr Macron said France, which also shares a long border with Italy, did not yet need containment measures as drastic as those taken in Italy or China, where the deadly novel coronavirus first erupted.

"Today for France, there is no need to go further than what we have determined... we are taking appropriate measures," he said.

But, he added, "if tomorrow or the day after there was a reason" to take more drastic measures, "we would take them".

Mr Macron said that taking "disproportionate measures" when France was "only at the beginning of the crisis" would be "counterproductive".

The French leader emphasised that it was "much more effective" to take containment measures in affected regions.

Italy recorded its deadliest day of the virus outbreak on Tuesday, its toll rising by 168 to 631, with a total of 10,149 infected.