FRENCH police are arresting and locking up anyone caught on the streets amid the country’s coronavirus outbreak, reports say.
The country has been under a nationwide lockdown since President Emmanuel Macron announced sweeping new measures to contain the virus this week.
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Residents are now banned from leaving their homes without proper justification, with police and the army patrolling to enforce the orders.
Anyone caught flouting the measures faces an on-the-spot fine equivalent to £128, but complaints about police conducting increasingly aggressive arrests are also now beginning to mount.
Dramatic footage of one incident shows a person already on the ground being repeatedly beaten by two men who appear to be police officers.
Another unverified clip shows a man lying in the road after apparently being struck across the head while another is kicked in the back.
Earlier this week, footage also showed a crowd of officers surrounding and restraining a woman on a Paris street in broad daylight as she shouted at them.
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Speaking on Thursday, President Emmanuel Macron said: “When I see that people continue to go to the park, to socialise together, to go to the beach or to rush in the open markets, it is clear that they did not understand the messages.”
A legal source in Paris told Le Parisien that at least five people who refused to respect the lockdown had been placed in police custody on Thursday.
All face a charge of “endangering the lives of others”, which is punishable with up to one year in prison and a fine equivalent to £14,000.
Another source said all five are repeat offenders who remain on the street despite being ordered home.
HOW ARE LOCKDOWNS BEING ENFORCED IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES
Countries around the world are now enforcing lockdowns and nationwide quarantines, but the punishments for flouting them vary from place-to-place
Authorities in China, the first country in the world to report cases, earlier deployed a fleet of drones through which they could talk to people and encourage them to go home.
They also set up checkpoints on the streets and at the entrance of residence buildings where people had to get their temperature checked before passing.
In Spain, residents face fines starting from £90 or even imprisonment if they disobey authorities.
The government has also said that any company that can help in the extra production of diagnosis material and protective equipment like masks, glasses, or gloves must contact them or face a fine.
In Italy, Europe’s worst-hit country, authorities so far charged over 40,000 people with ignoring the lockdown.
The face fines of £190 and three-month prison terms.
In France, anyone caught outside without justification is being given a fine equivalent to £128, while repeat offenders face detention and ultimately imprisonment.
President Emmanuel Macron this week expressed concern that people were not understanding the severity of the crisis.
In Australia, fines as high as £25,000 could be handed out to people failing to isolate themselves appropriately.
“We need a firmer tool to enforce the ban on wandering about,” said the source.
“People need to understand that this is an emergency, and you can’t just go where you want to go, and mix closely with other people.”
A spokesman for France’s Interior Ministry said 226,000 spot checks of documents were carried out on Thursday alone, with 18,000 people issued with police warnings.
France now has almost 11,000 cases of the coronavirus and at least 372 people known to have died.
Announce the new measures on Monday in a 20-minute televised speech, Macron said France was “at war”.
“Never has France had to take such decisions, albeit temporary, in time of peace,” he said.
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“All our energy should be on one aim: to slow the progress of the virus.”
The restrictions are currently set to be in place for 15 days, though the president has said that period could be extended to at least six weeks.