PARIS: Paris officials said on Tuesday (Apr 7) that they would ban daytime jogging as people continue to flout the nation's anti-coronavirus lockdown rules, after France recorded its highest daily death toll from the outbreak.
Under the confinement rules that came into force on Mar 17, people can leave their homes only for essential purposes, which had included a solo walk or run within one kilometre of their homes.
But as sunny days arrived at the weekend, large groups of Parisians were seen running, walking and congregating in groups, even as police issued fines for lockdown violations and hospitals struggled to cope with the influx of patients.
On Tuesday, as France entered its fourth week of lockdown, Paris toughened the confinement rules, announcing a ban on individual outdoor sports between the hours of 10am and 7pm starting on Wednesday.
Also on Tuesday, the Atlantic coastal resort city of Biarritz limited the amount of time people could sit on public benches or in other public areas to just two minutes maximum, saying the confinement rules meant that "dawdling is prohibited".
Biarritz, Paris and other cities have already closed public parks and gardens during the confinement, as part of the nationwide confinement that requires people to carry a document justifying their trips from home.
Those caught without the document face fines starting at 135 euros (US$147).
"FAR FROM OVER"
The tougher rules came after Health Minister Olivier Veran announced ON Monday a record daily coronavirus death toll of 833 people in 24 hours.
He said 478 people were admitted to intensive care in the period, a higher figure than in previous days.
"It is not over. Far from that. The path is long," the minister said, urging people to "stay at home and continue this confinement effort".
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner had already urged regional officials to toughen restrictions locally.
Announcing the new measures for Paris, Mayor Anne Hidalgo and the capital's police chief Didier Lallement said in a statement that "every excursion avoided aids the fight against the epidemic".
On Monday, the mayor of Sceaux, a commune south of Paris, issued a decree obliging all residents over the age of 10 to cover their mouth and nose when leaving the home starting on Wednesday.
Those who do not have surgical masks must wear a homemade alternative or tie a scarf or bandanna around their face, otherwise they could be fined 38 euros (US$41).
In a radio interview earlier on Tuesday, Hidalgo said she was not making masks obligatory although she did encourage everyone to cover their faces and noses.
The French government requisitioned all medical masks earlier in the outbreak for doctors and nurses.