By Nadine White
France will shut most shops, restaurants and entertainment facilities from midnight on Saturday as part of measures to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, prime minister Edouard Philippe said.
He was speaking at a news conference after the public health authority said 91 people had died in France and almost 4,500 were now infected.
Philippe said the government had been left with no choice but to take the decision because too many people were still out in the streets and not sufficiently applying measures that were recently announced.
That, he said, was helping accelerate the spread of the virus.
“I have decided to close all non-indispensable locations,” he said, adding that exceptions to the shop ban would include food stores, pharmacies and petrol stations.
“We must absolutely limit our movements.”
However, he said local elections on Sunday would go ahead.
Jerome Salomon, the head of the French public health authority, said there had been a rapid increase in serious cases, including 300 people in intensive care, half of whom were below 60 years of age.
“I am conscious of the efforts and sacrifices that we are asking, but I have faith that the French people will have the capacity to overcome this serious moment,” Philippe said.