France is banning all indoor public gatherings of more than 5000 and recommending people no longer greet each other with kisses in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Health Minister Olivier Veran announced the cancellation of large gatherings in confined spaces after special government meetings on the epidemic on Saturday.
Having previously recommended that people avoid shaking hands, the minister said they should also cut back on "la bise", the custom in France and elsewhere in Europe of greeting people with kisses, or air kisses, on the cheeks.
The tightened restrictions on public gatherings had an immediate impact. A major four-day trade show in Cannes for property investors was postponed from March to June.
A half-marathon that was scheduled for Sunday in Paris was also cancelled, as was a carnival in the Alpine town of Annecy, Mr Veran announced.
He said other outdoor events and gatherings that might lead to a mixing of people from infected areas could also be cancelled.
Public gatherings are being banned completely in the Oise region north of Paris that has seen a cluster of cases, and in a town in the foothills of the Alps that has also seen infections, he said.
As of Saturday, France had registered a total of 73 people infected with the coronavirus, up from 57 on Friday.
Of those, 59 people remain hospitalised, two have died and 12 have recovered, the minister said.
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/world/coronavirus-france-bans-gatherings-frowns-on-kissing/c8f90904-1449-4ff2-92c7-054bf3b3be5a