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14 Mar, 2020 19:04

France closes restaurants, clubs & most shops to battle Covid-19

France closes restaurants, clubs & most shops to battle Covid-19

Restaurants, entertainment venues and most shops are to shut down in France from midnight as the French government struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic that has killed 91 people there.

Following an increase of nearly 1,000 cases of coronavirus and 12 new deaths on Saturday, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe ordered all non-essential public places to be closed. Philippe also encouraged citizens to limit their travel, especially between cities.

A total of 91 people have died from coronavirus in the country, and Saturday saw confirmed cases rise to 4,499.

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Despite the new order, there is no indication French President Emmanuel Macron has changed his stance on shutting down national borders as a pre-emptive measure against the spread of the virus. Announcing the closure of schools and universities on Thursday, Macron said the virus "has no passport" and that he's ready to discuss border closures only on an EU-wide level. France will "undoubtedly" need to look at the option, but "only when it is relevant," he said.

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Macron tweeted on Saturday that he had spoken to Italian President Sergio Matterella and said that, when it comes to borders, "we must act quickly and together at a European level."

Public transportation will remain open to the general population, but Phillippe encouraged citizens to only leave their homes when necessary, for supplies or for work. Phillippe, however, said upcoming local elections on Sunday will go forward "as planned."

On the same day as the new shutdown orders were issued, hundreds of Yellow Vest demonstrators defied a ban on gatherings of 100 or more people to stage their weekly protests against the French government.

The demonstrators have been taking to the streets for 70 consecutive weeks now. French security forces violently clashed with the protesters on Saturday and employed tear gas in their attempts to stop them.

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