France bans gatherings of more than 1,000 over virus fears: minister

By: AFP      Published: 01:12 AM, 9 Mar, 2020
France bans gatherings of more than 1,000 over virus fears: minister
France’s President Emmanuel Macron (3rd R) and France’s Prime Minister Edouard Philippe (4th L) chair a defence council, at the Elysee Palace, in Paris on March 8, 2020. France now has 949 cases of COVID-19 cases, including sixteen people who have died from the corona virus.–AFP

France on Sunday banned all gatherings of more than 1,000 people in an attempt to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, Health Minister Olivier Veran said, as the French death toll reached 19.

“All gatherings of more than 1,000 people are from now on banned,” he said, adding that officials would issue a list of events considered “useful to national life” that would be allowed to continue such as demonstrations.

Previously the government banned gatherings in confined venues of more than 5,000 people. A decree issued on Saturday brought forward the ban’s end date to April 15 from May 31 previously.

The new measure will have major consequences for sporting and entertainment events, with cancellations including a book fair and a tattoo salon.

Paris Saint-Germain’s Ligue 1 game at Strasbourg on Saturday was postponed, as well as the women’s Six Nations rugby showdown between Scotland and France.

“This evening we are still in the second stage, meaning that our priority is to do everything to slow the spread of the virus in our national territory,” Veran said.

France has recorded 1,125 cases and 19 deaths.