French Smurf rally proceeds despite coronavirus ban: ‘We must not stop living’

The Smurf show must go on, coronavirus and all.

The small French town of Landerneau saw a record-breaking number of people congregate over the weekend for a Smurf rally, according to the Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The town’s mayor, Patrick Leclerc, used the event as an opportunity to reinforce the importance of focusing on continuing to live as normal, despite rising fears about the new coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19.

“We must not stop living,” Leclerc told AFP. “It was the chance to say that we are alive.”

Around 3,500 people showed up in blue and white clothing to celebrate their favourite cartoon characters. They also aimed to break Guinness World Record with their numbers, even after France banned all gatherings of more than 1,000 people one day earlier.

The ban is in response to the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus. More than 1,700 people have been sickened by the virus in France and 33 have died as of Wednesday morning, according to Johns Hopkins.

One of the “Smurfs” told the French news outlet: “The coronavirus is no big deal. It’s nothing.”

Another agreed: “There’s no risk. Yes, we’re going to Smurferize the coronavirus.”

The rally has drawn criticism from others, however.

Italian publication La Repubblica called the gathering a potentially “very dangerous viral bomb,” while newspaper Il Secolo XIX called it an “irresponsible move” that could increase the risk of the virus spreading, according to AFP.

Italy is currently facing the most serious coronavirus outbreak in Europe, with at least 10,000 cases in a matter of days. The entire country is on lockdown in an attempt to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

The number of deaths from the virus in the country rose on Tuesday to 631 from 463 a day earlier, Italian civil protection authorities said.

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