France to limit long-distance train, bus, plane travel over coronavirus

France to limit long-distance train, bus, plane travel over coronavirus

France will progressively reduce long-distance train, bus and plane travel over the coming days in a bid to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the government announced Sunday.

The country, which has already shuttered cafes, restaurants, schools and universities and urged people to limit their movements, will now seek to limit long-distance travel “to the strictly necessary,” ecology minister Elisabeth Borne told journalists in Paris.

Long-distance train traffic will be halved, with only “a few” international flights maintained, she said.

Deputy transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said this meant that “some flights to the United States, Africa, some domestic flights” and to France’s overseas territories will be maintained.

Airports will remain open, but certain terminals will be closed — one at Orly Airport in the south from Wednesday, and two at Charles De Gaulle in the north by the end of next week.

Regarding 12,000 French nationals stranded in Morocco after the kingdom suspended air links with 21 countries, Djebarri said they were being progressively repatriated.

Flights from Marrakesh, Casablanca and Rabat have already departed for France, and others are planned for later Sunday from Agadir and Tangiers.

Domestically, Djebarri said long-distance trains of the SNCF rail company will be halved in the coming days, and the regional TER service will run two trains in three.

In French cities and towns, 80 percent of metros, all buses and trams, and seven out of 10 suburban trains will continue running.

“Everyone must give up non-essential travel, leisure travel” and limit themselves to trips required for health, food and work, except if they could work from home, said Borne.

While closing all businesses providing non-essential goods and services in a bid to stem the coronavirus outbreak, France has allowed supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, gas stations and tobacco shops — which also sell newspapers, snacks and stamps — to remain open.


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