March 23, 2020 / 7:51 PM / 10 days ago

French PM says coronavirus lockdown could last weeks

PARIS, March 23 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said a virtual lockdown in France imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus could last several more weeks and that his government was tightening restrictions even further.

He said citizens from Tuesday would only be able to exercise alone or with their children once a day, for no more than an hour, and within 1 kilometre of their home. Open-air markets should close, he added.

“A lot of citizens want normalcy to return, but it’s not happening soon,” Philippe told TF1 news. “We feel the lockdown measures that we have taken, and which we will toughen yet again... could last several weeks.”

Philippe refused to rule out localised curfews but said the decision for those lay with local authorities. Several are already in place, including in Nice on the Mediterranean coast. (Reporting by Geert de Clercq and Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Richard Lough)

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