No gatherings of more than 5,000 people in confined spaces will be allowed in France due to fears of the coronavirus epidemic, Paris has announced, as neighboring nations have canceled mass events, bracing for an outbreak.
The French authorities announced the restrictions as the number of confirmed cases in the country climbed to 73. Fifty-nine people remain in the hospital after testing positive for the infection, Health Minister Olivier Veran said at a press conference on Saturday. Twelve people have successfully recovered while two died from the disease: a 60-year-old French teacher and an 80-year-old Chinese tourist.
The minister spoke after emergency meetings of the French cabinet and National Security Council to assess the epidemics.
The ban on mass gatherings will remain in place until further notice. Among the scheduled events affected by it are a half-marathon run in Paris and an agriculture show, both of which were supposed to take place on Sunday.
On Friday, the French authorities declared the coronavirus a stage-2 outbreak on a 3-stage scale. Veran said his ministry’s recommendation to the public is to wash hands regularly and avoid handshakes.
Notably, the virus has already disrupted the operation of the 110 Air Base Creil outside Paris, where several cases of Covid-19 were identified. The military facility has been put on lockdown due to the outbreak.
Other nations in Europe are taking their own precautions against the spread of the virus. Germany’s ITB Tourism Fair was canceled on Friday. The event was scheduled for next week and was projected to attract 10,000 visitors.
The event was called off by the organizers on the advice of the German government and after local health officials instructed them to impose strict checks on attendees. They would have been required to prove they hadn’t visited places with high risk of infection in recent weeks, which Messe Berlin, the organizer of the fair, found too difficult to guarantee.
Switzerland imposed its own ban on events likely to attract more than 1,000 people on Friday for the same reason as France. This means the country will not be able to host a car show in Geneva, a 10-day international event that was supposed to start next week. The Swiss authorities said the prohibition will remain in place at least until mid-March.