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French police fine over 4,000 people for violating lockdown

French police control people and evacuate the beach in Pornichet near La Baule as a lockdown is imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France, March 18, 2020. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
French police control people and evacuate the beach in Pornichet near La Baule as a lockdown is imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France, March 18, 2020. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe REUTERS - STEPHANE MAHE

A minority of French have continued to flout calls to stay at home and respect the coronavirus lockdown as the nation recorded its biggest spike to date in coronavirus deaths.

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"Our aim is not to punish the French people but to protect them," Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told TF1 channel on Wednesday night.

Some 4,095 people have already been fined for violating the rules since the lockdown was imposed Tuesday at midday.

Initially 35 euros, the fine has now gone up to 135 euros and could go up to 375 euros to dissuade people, Castaner said.

But while millions heeded the call to stay at home to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, a minority ventured out anyway, many without a valid reason.

Citizens are allowed out only if strictly necessary, such as for work, health-related reasons, personal exercise or grocery shopping, for which they must sign a document stating where they are going.

Keep it short

"Most of the French have been responsible and have changed their behaviour. But there are a minority behaving in a dangerous way," Castaner added.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo and Paris police chief Didier Lallement expressed similar views.

In a solemn message, they urged Parisians to limit their movements to a strict minimum.

"At at time when health workers are working day and night to save lives, outings  for sport, or related to children or animals must be kept short and nearby to peoples' homes," they said, denouncing the fact that some citizens' behaviour was "still unacceptable."

France reported its biggest daily rise in deaths on Thursday, with 89 new fatalities taking the total to 264 with nearly 10,000 confirmed cases of infection.

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