The French government is suspending all reforms already underway, “starting with the pension reform”, president Emmanuel Macron said yesterday evening in a speech about new measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Declaring the country was “at war”, Macron announced measures to severely restrict people’s movement for the next 15 days at least and that a bill would this week be introduced in the cabinet to allow the government to respond to the emergency and, where necessary, to pass laws by way ordinance in areas strictly relating to managing the crisis.

The second round of municipal elections is being suspended as well as the pension reform.

Separately, a coalition of trade unions opposed to the pension reform yesterday announced that they were postponing the alternative pension financing conference they had been planning for March 24. Earlier this month the hard left trade unions CGT and FO left negotiations over the pension reform.

Employer bodies and trade unions still at the negotiating table had been given a deadline of the end of April to come up with proposals for returning the current pension system to financial equilibrium by 2027.

The members of the so-called “financing conference”, which was installed in late January, were also asked to make recommendations for the longer-term financial management of the proposed new pension system.

The group brings together the social partners who are intended to participate in governing the potential new system, representatives of the state, and a representative of the court of auditors.

The draft pension reform, which comprises two pieces of legislation, was due to be debated in the upper house of parliament in April.