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Coronavirus in France: what can you actually do in lockdown time?

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French police issue a warning to cyclists on a beach in Marseille, southern France, Thursday, March 19, 2020.
French police issue a warning to cyclists on a beach in Marseille, southern France, Thursday, March 19, 2020.   -   Copyright  AP/ Daniele Cole
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It's Day Four on lockdown for people in France, and some are still not sticking to the strict measures President Emmanuel Macron outlined to fight against the spread of coronavirus.

On Monday 16 March, at 8 p.m CET the French President announced on several occasions that remaining indoors was "the only way to fight this war".

On a visit Thursday to the Institut Pasteur in Paris, Emmanuel Macron regretted how citizens take the instructions "lightly" and continue to hang out, enjoying the good weather in these early days of Spring.

The police deployed 100,000 agents across the country to check on citizen's respect of the rules.

And for those who want to brave the outside world, they risk a fixed fine of 135 euros in the event of "violation of the prohibitions on moving outside one's home".

'The rule is: stay at home'

Euronews contacted the Rhône's prefecture spokesperson (centre) on the phone, to know how far from home French people are allowed to go freely. "The first and only rule to remember is: stay at home," he confirmed.

A few exceptions to curb the lockdown are tolerated with an official attestation, a signed paper with a motive justifying you're presence outdoors. They are:

  • work
  • providing care for relatives or neighbours
  • medical appointments
  • physical activity (especially running) or taking your dog out

For the latter, authorities added "this applies, of course, within the immediate surroundings of your home".

"For example in Lyon, if you live near Hôtel de ville [city centre] and go for a run by the Rhône banks, you can get fined."

The approximative distance between these two points is 500 m.

"The fine will be at the discretion of the police," he added. "We are not aiming particular cases, we are just calling at everyone's sense of responsibility."

Sports ministry advises people to choose between going out for a run or for necessary shopping

While the sports ministry allows people to "stretch your legs within the immediate surroundings of your home and in a limited time", it emphasises on not going too far:

"1km, 2km max ... There is no question of getting away from home. The rule is containment for everyone. Remember that you should only go out for emergencies like shopping or your health. A little jogging is possible for your balance but not a 10km!"

Many posts on social media have been shared to practice sports indoors, some were also available on France's Sports ministry official website: "Stretch up", "when on the phone, walk around" and a list of physical activities that don't involve a specific exercising device: cleaning, sweeping the floor, gardening, etc.

Cities taking measures to close down open spaces

To tighten the screw, people already charged for unjustified exits have been placed in police custody for "endangering the lives of others", in Pas-de-Calais and in Seine-Saint-Denis, according to AFP.

After Paris, which closed all its green spaces, the city of Lille announced on Friday the closure of the Citadel park, its main green space, after several "abuses".

In Lyon as well, the city has become a ghost town: the Rhône river banks were closed with barriers.

And in Nice, the emblematic Promenade des Anglais has been closed, while a drone with a loudspeaker monitors the seaside.

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