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France deploys 100,000 servicemen to enforce lockdown: Minister

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-03-17 08:03
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A woman wearing a protective mask, walks near Arc de Triomphe following France's Prime Minister announcement to close most all non-indispensable locations, cafes, restaurants, cinemas, nightclubs and shops as France grapples with an outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) disease, in Paris, France, March 15, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

PARIS -- French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner on Monday said some 100,000 police officers will be poured into French cities to guarantee full respect of a lockdown imposed to stem fast circulation of the coronavirus.

"The watchword is clear: stay home. It's about containment measures following the model that Spain and Italy have put in place," said Castaner.

"You can get a breath of fresh air, but certainly not play football. Picnics in parks are strictly forbidden as are all group gatherings," he stressed.

"As of this evening. I order the internal security forces to set up controls. Anyone who travel must be able to justify his journey. This also applies to pedestrians," he added.

The minister announced that 100,000 police and gendarmes would be mobilized and fixed checkpoints will be set up country-wide in a new attempt to beat coronavirus.

Under the new rules, people who do want to travel will need to fill in a document explaining their reasons for doing so and carry it with them. If they are found to have violated the instruction, they risk to be fined between 38 euros and 135 euros ($42.47 to $150.98).

"Our objective is not to sanction but to show a collective civic spirit to face the crisis," he stressed.

The government's tough restriction came after pictures and videos posted on social media showed many people gathered for picnics in parks and at river banks, turning deaf ears to health authorities' warning and ignoring instructions to strictly respect barrier gestures and limit journey to help stem the virus spread.

As of Monday, the coronavirus has claimed 148 deaths, a rise of 21 from a day earlier, French Public Health Authority's figures showed. It added the number of positive cases had risen to 6,633, up from 5,423 on Sunday.

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