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Alcoholic beverages will be banned in French parks and other outdoor public areas as part of the new nationwide lockdown to contain the COVID-19 crisis, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Thursday.

Speaking to the National Assembly, Castex also said that following the new restrictions that President Emmanuel Macron revealed late Wednesday, authorities would quickly distribute groups of more than six people on riverbanks or squares.

Castex said he had “unreservedly” condemned people for breaking the rules after images of riverside crowds under the spring sun emerged in cities like Paris and Lyon.

Meanwhile, prosecutors should “systematically” investigate the organizers of secret parties in order to put the lives of others at risk, he added.

By ordering school closings and systematic work-from-home protocols, Macron hopes to ease pressure on hospitals facing a new surge in coronavirus cases overwhelming intensive care units.

But he refrained from demanding that people stay in their homes or not have full conversation, and approved travel between regions this coming Easter weekend.

The measures met with a mixture of resignation and anger, despite Macron’s suggestion that France could envisage a return to normal from mid-May.

“Lockdown, the sequel … and the end?” Le Figaro made front-page headlines on Thursday while mass market Le Parisien said Macron was defending its strategy of “slowing down without switching off” when “the situation has never been so dangerous or complicated”.

‘Alleviate the Pain’

As with the first lockdown last spring, parents are trying to make arrangements for another round of distance learning.

That task was made even more complicated when the Prime Minister’s Office stated later on Thursday that childcare workers would not be allowed to take in children for three weeks except for priority cases.

“It was imperative to close schools, even though this situation will be difficult for parents, and especially young children, to deal with,” said Laure, 44, a researcher with two boys who lives in Paris, after Macron’s televised address .

To ease the pain, Macron shuffled the school break schedule and younger kids will be back to school on April 26 after their spring break, and older students will follow suit a week later.

Castex, who gave lawmakers details of the new measures, said low-income families would receive financial support for children who no longer eat school lunches.

Health Minister Olivier Veran said the number of new COVID cases could peak in the next seven to ten days, while cases in intensive care units in hospitals could peak by the end of April.

“The aim is to suppress this wave of the epidemic … so that it is as small as possible,” he told France Inter Radio.

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