French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced on Saturday that France will increase social distancing to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a televised press conference, Philippe said that starting at midnight Saturday all places that are not essential to French living including restaurants, cafes, cinemas, and clubs will be closed.
The closures include France’s ski resorts, which are shutting down on Sunday
The closure order includes all businesses except those that are essential. “Markets and food shops, pharmacies, gas stations, banks, newspaper, and tobacco stores will remain open,” he said.
“Places of worships will remain open, but religious ceremonies and gatherings will be postponed.”
Philippe acknowledged that the French people find the concept of social distancing repugnant: “Because we are a people that like to gather, a joyful people, a people that like to live together… Maybe, even more, when fear starts to spread.”
“We have seen too many people in cafes and restaurants. In usual times, this would make me happy. Because this is France we all love. But for a few weeks, this is not what we should be doing,” he said.