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French police perform ID checks as France enters lockdown

France's strict lockdown to combat the spread of COVID-19 came into effect at noon on Tuesday.

President Emmanuel Macron announced the measures, which prohibit all but essential outings, on Monday evening.

The government said people flouting the restrictions could face a fine of up to €135.

The country has reported 148 deaths from the virus, a number that health experts warn could soar in the coming days, seriously straining the hospital system.

Macron said that under the new regime, gatherings among friends and family would no longer be allowed, only "necessary movements" like shopping, medical visits or going to work if doing so from home was not possible.

Schools have been closed since Monday.

But French health minister Olivier Veran said on Tuesday that self-confinement rules could be eased in two weeks if the spread of the new coronavirus is sufficiently contained.

"If in two weeks we see that things have calmed down enough and we can lift some of these confinement rules, we'll do it," Veran told