French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday issued a sweeping travel ban aimed at curbing the spread of canine diseases and easing travel restrictions for foreign visitors.
The measures were announced as France faced the highest number of cases of rabies in the country’s history and officials said the new restrictions would bring the number of confirmed cases of the disease down by nearly 50%.
“We are going to fight for a better world, for a safer world, and a better travel,” Macron told a news conference at the Elysee Palace.
The announcement came a day after the French government announced the introduction of a new two-year travel ban for people from certain countries.
It will extend from January 2018 to March 2021, including for those travelling to the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
Macron’s announcement came as his Socialist Party (PS) came under fire for taking a hard line on the spread and treatment of canine rabies and other canine diseases in a country where many locals consider them “fungal diseases”.
Macron also announced measures to increase access to care for pets and their owners, and to provide tax breaks to help the struggling pet industry.
On Thursday, he issued a blanket travel ban, a first since his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy signed a similar ban in the wake of the pandemic in 2007.
The move came as a precautionary measure, and could help prevent the spread or spread of other canine viruses and prevent a resurgence of the coronavirus.
French President Emmanuel Emmanuel Macron said the measures aimed at tackling the spread were necessary to protect the health of the country and its citizens.
He also said the travel ban would be implemented from January 2019, with additional measures in place by April 2021.
Macron, who has been battling a debilitating case of brain cancer, said that he did not want France to become the next Vietnam or Vietnam-like country in the world where a pandemic swept through.
“I do not want this to become a Vietnam-type country,” he said, referring to the country which has been hit hard by the pandemics.
“We will fight against the spread, the spread,” Macron said, adding that the measures were aimed at reducing the spread.
“These measures are necessary to stop the spread as we have to.”
Macron said that the ban would include an end to the current practice of the use of dogs as quarantine carriers, which has allowed people from affected countries to travel to France.
“There is no reason to keep dogs in quarantine and we are against such things,” he added.
Macrons order also includes a ban on the use or sale of certain animal products and animal shelters, a move that has come under heavy criticism in the United Arab Emirates and in China.
The country’s state-run media has repeatedly reported the arrival of more than 10,000 dogs and cats from affected regions, and have also described it as a “war on the dogs” and a “mass quarantine”.
Macrons government has made headlines with its handling of the crisis, including its decision to allow the sale of dogs in restaurants and bars, and its declaration of a public holiday for the next two weeks to help control the spread in the pet industry, which he has said was the countrys main source of income.