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France to deploy 100,000 police on New Year's Eve to impose 8pm curfew

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File photo: A French gendarme stands guard in a Strasbourg street. Dec. 12, 2018.
File photo: A French gendarme stands guard in a Strasbourg street. Dec. 12, 2018.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Jean Francois Badias
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France is set to deploy 100,000 police and gendarmes across the country on December 31 to help ensure that the nation's 8 pm curfew is observed on what is traditionally a party night.

According to Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, the law enforcement officers will also be on the streets on December 31 to ensure security because of France's high terror threat.

He said there would be a visible police presence in city centres and flashpoint suburbs from the start of the curfew at 8 pm.

The measure, put in place to combat the surging second wave of the coronavirus in the country, will see many in France ring in the new year with muted celebrations.

While citizens are allowed to host guests at home, everyone must be inside before 8 pm on New Years Eve and until 6am on January 1, unless they have a valid reason to be outdoors.

People who travel outdoors during the curfew risk a fine of €135 if they do not have a form declaring their reason for breaking the rule; work, to help family, or for health purposes are accepted reasons.

The government has recommended that only six adults should convene at one time.

The Ministry of the Interior has said that while this is not a legal requirement, it is a "call for caution and good citizenship".

On the other hand, if parties are organised in venues that are supposed to be closed to the public as part of France's coronavirus measures, such as restaurants or bars, the organisers are likely to incur a fine.

This is also the case for people who organise gatherings in private venues that "clearly go beyond the private sphere" - when they have introduced a paid admission system, for example.

"Penalties amount to €135 for a first offence and can go up to €3,750 in the event of a repeat offence," the ministry added.

Local prefects have been instructed to intervene "as soon as possible" in the event of an "underground party".

In addition to fining the participants, "you should prioritise identifying the organisers", wrote Darmanin in a note addressed to the prefects at the beginning of the week.

France has the fifth-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world with its total standing at 2.6 million.

The country has also seen over 64,000 deaths due to the virus.