Tourist sites in Paris fear riots, will close Saturday

Tourist sites in Paris are to close on Saturday amid fears of further street violence from “yellow vest” anti-government protests.

Police have urged shops and restaurants on Paris’s Champs-Elysees to shut and some museums will also be closed.

The operator of the Eiffel Tower said the threat of violent protests on Saturday made it impossible to ensure “adequate security conditions”.

City authorities say they are stepping up protection for famous landmarks after the Arc de Triomphe was damaged last week.

Culture Minister Franck Riester said the Louvre and Orsay museums, opera houses and the Grand Palais complex were among sites that would be closed.

Across France, 89,000 police officers will be on duty and armoured vehicles will be deployed in the capital, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced.

He repeated an appeal for calm but added: “We are facing people who are not here to protest, but to smash and we want to have the means to not give them a free rein.”

Earlier, Philippe suggested further concessions to protesters, telling the Senate that the government was open to new measures to help the lowest-paid workers.

Paris endured some of the worst riotings in decades last Saturday.

The government has said it is scrapping unpopular fuel tax increases in its budget – the original trigger for the protests.

But broader discontent with the government has spread and protests have erupted over other issues.

A series of football matches have also been postponed on Saturday. They include those between Paris and Montpellier, Monaco and Nice, Toulouse and Lyon, and Saint-Etienne and Marseille.

On Thursday young people took to the streets, protesting over education reforms.

Last week, the movement – despite a lack of central leadership – issued more than 40 demands to the government.

Among them were a minimum pension, widespread changes to the tax system, and a reduction in the retirement age.

The protest movement has gained momentum via social media, encompassing a whole range of participants from the anarchist far left to the nationalist far right, and moderates in between.

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