“The parks and gardens in Paris will close in the coming hours,” the City of Paris said in a press statement on Monday.
“Last Saturday, France entered stage 3 of the coronavirus epidemic,” the statement said.
The closing down of the capital's parks was a means “to amplify the impact of the measures” the government had taken to restrict social movement in the country.
The City would also ensure a free parking for everyone mobilised to deal with the crisis to make it as easy as possible for them to get to work and back. Five hundred thousand masks would be distributed to the capital's health personnel, the statement said.
The announcement came as the French government ramped up restrictive measures to slow down the spread of the coronavirus in the country, which was beginning to take a heavy toll on the country's already overstrained health system.
On Sunday evening, 127 people had died from the coronavirus, which had spread to all of the country and contaminated more than 5,400 people.
Despite French health authorities stressing how important it was for people to limit their social interactions as much as possible and stay inside if they could, many Parisians were out and about on Sunday to enjoy the suddenly sunny weather.
Parc Montsouris à Paris, 16H30
Les Parisiens sont très nombreux dans les parcs cet après midi. #EdouardPhilippe a pourtant demandé hier soir aux Français de limiter leurs déplacements pour contrer le #coronavirus #COVIDー19 pic.twitter.com/99dBJKkR9z
— Clément Lanot (@ClementLanot) March 15, 2020
Forte fréquentation cet après-midi au parc des Buttes-Chaumont à Paris malgré les consignes d'Édouard Philippe de limiter les déplacements pic.twitter.com/vT8uat2m0h
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) March 15, 2020
“Stay at home, it's as simple as that,” said the country's health service Jérôme Salomon said on Monday morning, urging everyone to carry their part of the burden to limit the spread of the contagion.
As the City's released its press statement on Monday, Parisians were already adapting to the new rules, queuing up in front of pharmacies (drug stores) and food shops with one metre between themselves.
However, French media reported that the government would announce confinement measures and curfews for the whole country to come into force on Monday or Tuesday.
Government spokesperson Sibeth Ndiaye described the reports of a curfew as “fake news”.
But she added: “We are examining all the useful measures to get people to change their behaviour.”
President Emmanuel Macron was to hold a televised speech on Monday evening to announce the government's next steps in the fight against the epidemic.