The French government has banned alcohol consumption alongside the Seine and the city’s canals in a bid to dissuade merrymakers (AFP Photo/FRANCOIS GUILLOT)More

Paris (AFP) – French officials called Friday for self-restraint as the country prepares for its first weekend since the coronavirus lockdown was eased, warning that police would break up any large gatherings of people taking too much advantage of newfound freedoms.

Scenes of packed squares and riverbanks in Paris and other cities this week have the authorities worried that social-distancing diligence will fade in the spring sunshine forecast for much of the country.

The government is walking a fine line, hoping to avert a new surge in COVID-19 cases even as it cautiously reopens some businesses and lets people now travel within 100