- The French government has ordered its citizens to stop kissing each other on the cheek as the coronavirus rapidly spreads across Europe.
- The traditional French “bise” kiss is an integral part of the country’s culture.
- President Emmanuel Macron’s government has also ordered a temporary ban on public gatherings as the virus takes hold in the country.
- You can read the latest on the ongoing global crisis here.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
France has told its citizens to stop kissing each other on the cheek in a bid to halt the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus across the country.
The country’s health minister, Olivier Véran, warned French people over the weekend to stop participating in the traditional “bise” greeting of kissing someone on both cheeks.
“The reduction in social contacts of a physical nature is advised,” Véran said at a media briefing in Paris. “That includes the practice of the bise. The virus is circulating in our territory and we must now slow down its spread.”
President Emmanuel Macron’s government has also introduced a ban on public gatherings of more than 5,000 people, as the deadly virus continues to spread across Europe and the rest of the world.
“These measures are temporary and we will likely have to revise them,” Véran said. “They are restrictive and paradoxically we hope they don’t last long because that means we will have contained the virus’ spread.”
The ban on large public gatherings resulted in the cancellation of the Paris Half Marathon, which had been scheduled for Sunday.
The Louvre in Paris — one of the world’s most famous museums — was also closed Sunday.
France had 73 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of the weekend. Two of those people died.
Nearly 90,000 people worldwide have been infected by the virus, with more than 3,000 dying.
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On Monday, Iceland and Andorra confirmed their first cases of the virus.
In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday was expected to chair an emergency meeting of senior ministers and officials as his government prepared for a coronavirus outbreak in the country.
The UK government is set to reveal an action plan for dealing with the spread of the virus, which could include shutting down major cities and cancelling major sporting events.
A school in the London region of Wimbledon has closed for a week after one of its staff members tested positive for COVID-19 after recently traveling to Italy, where there were 1,694 confirmed cases as of Sunday.
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