Parisians flee city before French lockdown

Thomas Adamson and Nicolas Garriga
·1-min read

Parisians fleeing for the countryside have jammed the roads ahead of France's lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus infections, with only a sprinkling of people hurrying along city footpaths as the restrictions went into effect.

Dystopian images of logjams that stretched for 700km at one point on Thursday evening - exacerbated by the upcoming long holiday weekend - were a grim sign of a return to the dark days of the spring, when virus cases first swelled in Europe and many countries kept their citizens inside for weeks on end.

With infections hitting record levels in some countries, many are now resorting to severe restrictions again.

In France, concerns were growing that rising infections would swamp the country's health system so authorities ordered another four-week lockdown beginning on Friday.

Many areas of the French capital resembled a regular lazy weekend morning - on what would usually have been a bustling weekday.

Those who were out frequently clutched permission forms proving they had an exemption that allowed them to to be on streets.

The only places that were busy were grocery stores and markets as people stockpiled food and other necessities.

France's 67 million people have been ordered to stay at home at all times with no visitors or risk steep fines or prosecution.

There are a handful of exceptions, such as being allowed out for one hour of exercise a day within a 1km of home, to go to medical appointments, to a place of work, or to shop for essential goods.

Restaurants and cafes are shuttered, apart from those that offer takeaway.

France on Friday reported 49,215 new confirmed coronavirus cases, compared with 47,637 on Thursday and a record high of 52,010 on Sunday.