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Tunisia says over 400 arrested for breaking virus curfew

By Agence France-Presse 

Tunisian police arrested more than 400 people for breaking a night-time curfew imposed to fight the spread of coronavirus, the authorities said Monday.

A man lights up a cigarette as a woman sweeps the floor on the balcony of a building, on the first day of a general confinement imposed by the authorities in order to stem the spread of the novel cononavirus that causes the Covid-19 disease, in the Tunisian capital Tunis on March 22, 2020. - Tunisia has already closed its maritime, land and air borders and has been under curfew from 6 pm to 6 am local time, but the government took the decision to step up the protective measures. (Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP)

A man lights up a cigarette as a woman sweeps the floor on the balcony of a building, on the first day of a general confinement imposed by the authorities in order to stem the spread of the novel cononavirus that causes the Covid-19 disease, in the Tunisian capital Tunis on March 22, 2020. – Tunisia has already closed its maritime, land and air borders and has been under curfew from 6 pm to 6 am local time, but the government took the decision to step up the protective measures. (Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP)

Around 30 of the 408 transgressors who were arrested remained in custody, while the others were released after a warning, Interior Minister Hichem Mechichi told reporters.

“Anyone who breaks the security rules will be treated as a criminal because failing to respect rules within the context of the pandemic is a crime,” he said.

A total of 412 cafes, bars and restaurants were forced by the security forces to close.

Alongside a 6.00 pm to 6.00 am curfew that entered into force on March 18, daytime restrictions took effect on Sunday, limiting movements to those of “extreme necessity”, including for work in key sectors.

Tunisia’s presidency has announced increased military deployments to enforce the restrictions.

The country has so far registered three deaths from the coronavirus among 90 confirmed cases, the health ministry said Monday.

Meanwhile, Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Monday night ordered people to confine themselves to their homes between 7.00 pm and 7.00 am in the capital Algiers and other cities hit by coronavirus.

The order, released in a statement by the presidency, avoided using the word “curfew”, a particularly sensitive term in the country, due to a 1992-2002 civil war that killed 200,000.

Official figures put Algeria’s coronavirus death toll at 17, among 230 confirmed cases.

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