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France and Israel close restaurants, theaters, non-essential shops to fight coronavirus

Edouard Philippe during the Munich Security Conference 2018. (Mueller / MSC, Wikimedia Commons/Released)
March 15, 2020

Starting on Sunday, all non-essential shops, restaurants and movie theaters in France will be closed in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced the closures in a press conference Saturday.

“On the basis of simulations of the progression of the epidemic, I decided, in conjunction with the President of the Republic, the closure from midnight tonight of all places receiving the public not essential to the life of the country,” Philippe’s translated announcement reads. “In particular, restaurants, cafes, cinemas, nightclubs and shops will be closed. However, food stores and markets, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, tobacco and press offices will remain open.”

Philippe further advised the French public to avoid public gatherings and public transportation when possible and to only go out for essential activities like working or shopping for groceries.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced similar plans to close public spaces in Israel, according to Fox News. Those closures will also take affect on Sunday.

Netanyahu called for further specifics on limiting social interactions, and Israel will reportedly ban indoor gatherings of more than 10 people. He also reportedly called on political rival Benny Gantz to form an “emergency unity government” to deal with the virus.

According to Johns Hopkins University’s tracking of the coronavirus, some 4,480 people in France have the virus, and the country has experienced 91 deaths.

Israel has recorded 191 coronavirus cases, with no deaths thus far.

The U.S. has had 2,571 cases and 51 deaths as of Saturday.