COVID-19 restrictions block French voters in Shanghai from casting ballots

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April 9 (UPI) — French voters living in Shanghai, China won’t be able to vote in the first round of their country’s presidential election due to COVID-19 lockdown protocols.

In a statement from the French Embassy in China, officials cited “exceptional circumstances” that make it impossible for the polling station in Shanghai to open. Shanghai encompasses approximately 26 million people, including 4,848 registered French voters.

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Polling stations in five other cities in China — Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Wuhan and Hong Kong — will open as scheduled, the embassy states. A sixth station in Shenyang will also open, though it will be subject to local traffic restrictions.

French citizens are headed to the polls Sunday to vote in the first round to choose their next president. The field of 12 candidates spans the political spectrum and includes the incumbent, President Emmanuel Macron, as well as third-time candidate Marine Le Pen.

The top two vote-getters will advance to a second round of voting scheduled for April 24. The winner will be in charge of managing the European Union’s second-largest economy, as war rages on the eastern side of the continent in Ukraine.

Shanghai is caught in the throes of its worst COVID-19 surge since the start of the pandemic more than two years ago. The city recorded a daily record of more than 21,000 new cases on Friday, the New York TImes reports, bringing the total since last month to more than 130,000. Officials are imposing strict limitations on movement within the city to combat the surge.

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