Paris closes riverside walkways, Nice shuts iconic promenade to curb coronavirus spread

A couple wearing protective masks take a selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower as lockdown is imposed to slow the spreading of the coronavirus disease in Paris, France, March 18, 2020.
A couple wearing protective masks take a selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower as lockdown is imposed to slow the spreading of the coronavirus disease in Paris, France, March 18, 2020. © Benoit Tessier, REUTERS

The mayors of Paris and the southern French city of Nice on Friday said they would be closing parks, promenades and walkways in their cities to limit the spread of the coronavirus outbreak as the number of confirmed cases in France passed the 10,000 mark.

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The French capital was shutting down popular promenades along the Seine river, the lawns of Les Invalides and the Champ de Mars park around the Eiffel Tower because of coronavirus infection worries, the prefecture said on Friday.

The closure took effect at 1500 CET (1300 GMT) Friday and will last through the weekend, with all gatherings or passage through these areas forbidden, the prefecture said. It said that too many people were disregarding countrywide lockdown measures and frequenting these areas despite stringent lockdown rules introduced across France at the start of this week.

French health authorities on Friday reported 78 new deaths from coronavirus, taking the total to 450 or an increase of 21 percent, the toll rising less sharply than the previous two days.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in France had risen to 12,612, up from 10,995 on Thursday, which is a rise of 15 percent in 24 hours, said health agency director Jerome Salomon at press conference Friday. Of these, 1,297 people were in a serious condition, needing life support, up 16 percent compared to Thursday.

'Considering curfew' in Nice

Meanwhile in the southeastern French city of Nice, Mayor Christian Estrosi said on Friday he would be closing Nice's famous Promenade des Anglais.

Estrosi also told France's LCI TV that he was considering whether to implement curfew measures in Nice.

"I am considering a curfew order as early as tonight, excluding of course the priority staff that we also have to take care of," said Estrosi, who has tested positive himself for the virus.

France on Tuesday put its 67 million people under lockdown in efforts to curb the spread of the virus that has infected worldwide more than 245,000 people with a death toll exceeding 10,028.

French President Emmanuel Macron​ on Friday also admonished French nationals and residents for failing to take the nationwide lockdown seriously.

"We are at the start of this crisis. We have taken exceptional measures to absorb this first wave, but we've started a race against the virus," the French president said at the beginning of a crisis meeting at the Interior Ministry on Friday.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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