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Coronavirus: French mayor removes public benches amid claims of lockdown rebellion

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A  woman wearing a face mask sits on a bench on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, on March 16, 2020.
A woman wearing a face mask sits on a bench on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, on March 16, 2020.   -   Copyright  AFP/ Lionel Bonaventure
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The mayor of a Lille suburb says he has removed public benches in a bid to get people to obey lockdown rules.

Sébastien Leprêtre has taken away around 40 benches after claiming locals in La Madeleine were not respecting confinement orders.

"Even if the fines are not enough to dissuade some from defying the rules of confinement, there is only one solution: remove the benches from public space," tweeted Leprêtre.

"They will obviously be reinstalled when the confinement has been lifted," added the mayor.

La Madeleine counts around 21,000 inhabitants and is located on the northern outskirts of Lille.

Contacted by AFP, Leprêtre explained this decision was a matter of "life and death".

"It has been eight days that despite the confinement, people have come to sunbathe, discuss, walk around," he deplored. "Faced with unconsciousness, we are forced to take measures that I never thought I should ever take."

In total, around forty benches in open public spaces will be temporarily removed by the city services.