Renault is to shut all its 12 factories in France from the end of today (16 March) until further notice as reports circulate Paris is to impose further draconian measures in a bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

France has already severely restricted daily life closing all restaurants, cafes, cinemas and nightclubs, while allowing chemists, food shops, petrol stations, banks, tobacconists and essential public services to remain open as the country goes to level 3 of its pandemic plan.

“Groupe Renault will suspend all production activities on French industrial sites in order to protect its employees in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and in compliance with the measures taken by the French government,” said a Renault statement.

“These suspensions of industrial activities concern 12 sites and 18,000 employees in France. The continuity of production activities at the Group’s plants in other European countries depends on the situation in each country.

“The Group plans to restart production activities as soon as conditions permit and will implement appropriate measures to respond effectively to commercial demand.”