On Feb. 29, the French Government banned gatherings of 5,000 people or more in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The ban, instituted by French Health Minister Olivier Véran, follows President Macron’s wish of minimising the spread of the virus at all costs.
As of March 4, France has fewer than 200 reported cases of coronavirus, most of which are concentrated in regions north of Paris. The new ban signals France’s determined attitude towards containing its own national outbreak and preventing further international contamination.
The Paris Half Marathon was recently cancelled in compliance with the mass congregation ban. The race had been scheduled for March 1. This sport event is France’s biggest half marathon and in 2020 it would have hosted more than 44,000 participants.
The last day of the Paris Agricultural Fair was also cancelled in response to the ban.
Even The Louvre was temporarily closed after the ban was instated, causing an upset among tourists. Though the museum was not required to close, the management was pushed to do so by the urgency of the museum staff, who feared for their own safety and the safety of visitors. As the most visited museum in the world, this Paris museum welcomes more than 5,000 guests per day, many of whom are international tourists.
The Louvre reopened on March 4, after the staff agreed to go back to work following management’s proposal of extra sanitation measures to inhibit the spread of the virus. These measures include easy access to hand sanitizer, frequent staff rotation for handwashing breaks along with very limited contact between staff and visitors.
Though the Louvre has mostly returned to business as usual, the regions with large coronavirus clusters are still undergoing dramatic preventative measures.
On March 3, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer called for the closure of 120 schools near the Oise and Brittany regions, which have the highest national numbers of reported cases. The closure affects around 35,000 students, as reported by The Hill.
In Oise all public gatherings have been banned.
The French government has requested that all citizens who have recently returned from affected areas in China, Singapore, South Korea, and Italy avoid “all non-essential outings". These citizens have also been urged to work from home and keep their children home from school.
"Our goal at this stage is limit the spread," Véran said on Feb. 29 [BBC].
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Louvre reopens as France increases precautionary measures against coronavirus
Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France