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19 Mar, 2020 14:25

Stay near home & no cycling: France tightens Covid-19 lockdown restrictions to ‘max 2km from home’

Stay near home & no cycling: France tightens Covid-19 lockdown restrictions to ‘max 2km from home’

France has dramatically tightened restrictions on movement amid its coronavirus lockdown, warning citizens that they should limit their travel to within one kilometer of their homes – and a maximum of two kilometers.

The country went into a 15-day lockdown over the Covid-19 outbreak at noon on Tuesday, and a list of acceptable reasons for travel was published by the government. Those reasons include shopping for basic necessities, seeking medical treatment, helping a neighbor or relative, and walking the dog. Getting exercise was also seen as a legitimate reason – provided that it was done alone.

All tolerated activities were only acceptable if a person filled out a government form stating their reasons for movement (those without a printer were permitted to handwrite a statement).

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As of Thursday, a new advisory from the Ministry of Sport reminded people that the goal of the lockdown was for “everyone to be confined” and not to leave home unless it was for an “urgent” matter. The ministry said people should now stay within one (maximum two) kilometers of their home and that a “little jogging” was possible, but “not a 10k" run.

Cycling is also now completely out of the question, with the French Cyclist Federation noting on Twitter that the activity “does not comply with the criteria” outlined by the government. The federation urged cyclists to help save lives and “stay at home!”

In a joint statement, Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo and Paris Police Chief Didier Lallement made a “solemn appeal” to walkers and joggers, who are still frequenting the banks of the Seine and other areas in large numbers, to limit their movement to what is “strictly necessary.”

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Hidalgo and Didier also said there continued to be too many visitors showing up to the busiest markets in Paris, and that safety distance guidelines were not being respected.

“If this call to responsibility does not bear fruit, the prefect of police, guarantor of the safety of Parisians, will then take all useful measures to prohibit access to the most frequented places,” they said.

Since Wednesday morning, French police enforcing the lockdown measures have handed out 4,095 ticket fines to citizens defying the rules, according to Interior Minister Christophe Castaner. The minister also told Europe 1 radio on Thursday that the 15-day lockdown “may be extended” if necessary.

So far, France has seen 264 deaths due to the Covid-19 virus and more than 9,100 confirmed cases. That number is likely to be significantly higher since the country is not testing everyone who presents with symptoms.

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