Miles of queues were seen out of Paris last night as people attempted a mass exodus out of the city before the start of a second national lockdown in France.
Aerial pictures shows thousands of people causing huge traffic jams as they desperately headed to other homes in the country before the 9pm curfew.
Parisians packed out railway stations as they left the city ready for another month in confinement.
Car horns could be heard blaring as others decided to spend their final night before lockdown with friends and family in bars and restaurants.
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But anti-lockdown protesters also gathered in Paris to voice their opposition to the draconian new measures being brought in by President Emmanuel Macron.
Supermarket shelves were stripped bare in a repeat of scenes of panic-buying in March across Europe.
And people were even seeing queuing outside hairdressers for a final cut before the lockdown.
France’s nationwide lockdown begins today, and will be enforced until at least December 1, with reviews every two weeks thereafter.
People will be required to carry documents justifying their reason for leaving home that will be subject to police checks.
Under the rules, schools will stay open but non-essential businesses will have to close, including bars and restaurants.
Travel between regions but people will be allowed out for one hour of exercise a day.
Addressing the nation on Wednesday, Mr Macron said that France must now ‘apply the brakes brutality’ to avoid being ‘submerged by the acceleration of the epidemic’.
The President said: ‘Like in the spring, you will be able to leave your house only to work, for a medical appointment, to provide assistance to a relative, to shop for essential goods or to get some air near your house.’
Daily coronavirus deaths in France are at the highest level since April.
The country is reporting more than 350 new cases per 100,000 people each week, and nearly 18% of its tests are now coming back positive.
He added the virus is circulating ‘at a speed that even the most pessimistic forecasts had not anticipated’.
President Macron acknowledged the measures would hit the economy hard but said the country was at risk of being ‘overwhelmed by a second wave that no doubt will be harder than the first’.
‘If we do not put a brutal brake on contamination today, our hospitals will quickly become overwhelmed,’ he said.
‘We will never let hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens die.. These are not our values. It is not in our interest either.’
He said he hopes families will be able to be reunited by Christmas.
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