deafening emptiness echoed through the streets of Paris tonight as a draconian 6pm curfew brought in to suppress the spread of Covid-19 forced people across France to hunker down at home.
Striking pictures saw iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe almost entirely deserted, while the Champs Elysees was devoid of the throngs of shoppers it typically draws.
The curfew ordering people indoors and businesses to shut was brought forward two hours to 6pm and lasts until 6am tomorrow.
Coronavirus has killed 70,000 people across France, which has the seventh highest death toll globally, and ministers fear more fatalities at the hands of the highly transmissible variant detected in Britain.
Prime Minister Jean Castex said in a speech: ‘These measures were necessary given the situation. While worsening, it remains relatively better than many countries around us, but I took them because the context, notably with the evolution of the virus, means we have to have utmost vigilance.’
Scenes of quiet Parisian streets tonight were markedly transformed from earlier in the day when tens of thousands of protesters marched through cities across France to rail against a new security bill critics say would restrict the filming of police and posting images to social media, notably to document cases of police brutality.
Heavily armored police in riot gear were deployed to the demonstrations which saw activists waving smoke flares.