PARIS, March 15 (Xinhua) -- The French government on Saturday decided to limit vehicle use in Paris and suburbs on next Monday after air pollution reached high levels in several regions in France.
In a statement posted on Matignon website, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault decided to set a system of "alternating traffic" in Paris and suburbs in March 17 from 5:30 a.m. (0430 GMT) as pollution was expected to continue unabated through the weekend.
"We forecast an improvement in the situation tomorrow. However, the forecasts show a rise in pollution from Sunday night and on Monday and Tuesday," Ayrault's office said.
The prime minister said limiting vehicles' use was "necessary" to deal with the new peak of air pollution despite the "difficulties that this measure may cause to the everyday lives of Parisians."
Following recurring spikes in French air pollution, the government offered free public transport over the weekend while Parisians were called to use Velib and Autolib, public sharing services of bicycle and electric cars.
Adding to that, officials recommended to reduce driving speeds, avoid intense physical activity and outdoor walks with children under six years old, and a prohibition against lighting fires outside.
According to Ecology Minister Philippe Martin, France would implement a plan of atmosphere protection in the next few months.
"By the summer, the most affected areas will be the subject of atmosphere protection plan that will provide appropriate measures: reducing emissions from construction sites, transfer of companies and administrations and reducing traffic speeds on certain sections of high-traffic," the minister told the daily Liberation.
On Saturday, the Airparif Association, an environmental body responsible for monitoring air quality of Ile-de-France, expected the pollution index to be high for the fifth consecutive day at 90 due to increased pollutant of PM10.
The increase in pollution level was caused by searing temperatures heating up traffic and industrial pollutants and the hot air re-circulating slowly across densely populated north France and the capital.