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France blocks yellow vest protesters from iconic landmarks - but is it a ban?

Protesters in Paris have set alight to cars and buildings as they try to spread their message. Credit: AP

France’s prime minister has announced a ban on yellow vest protests along the Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris after rioters left luxury stores ransacked and charred.

New legislation will also see the protesters blocked from areas of Bordeaux and Toulouse, and the head of Paris' police force replaced.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe says restrictions will be imposed for an unspecified period in the areas "most impacted" by the movement.

Has France banned the group from protesting?

French yellow vests have protested for 18th weekend in Paris. Credit: Christophe Ena/PA

In short, no.

France plans to prevent the protesters from gathering in areas which have no had a break since the movement formed in November.

It has not out-right banned the group. Many of the protests are peaceful, and the violence in French cities over past weekends has been purportrated by a minority of protesters.

Officials acknowledged "dysfunction" in French police operations on Saturday, rejecting "inappropriate" orders given to security forces to use fewer rubber bullets following a controversy about the numerous injuries they caused at previous protests.

A shift in security strategy has been announced by Mr Philippe to allow police forces greater initiative on the ground to take measures against rioters and disperse disruptive crowds.

Police will use new tools, including drones and video surveillance, to help prevent violence and send rioters to trial for their actions.

"When a protest has been banned and its aim is to ransack and loot, all of those who take part it in and, in fact, protect looters, encourage them or glorify them online, are complicit and will have to face the consequences," he said.

Mr Philippe promised "nothing will change" for other peaceful, authorised protests.

How bad have the protests been?

Mr Philippe announced the measures following a meeting with President Emmanuel Macron and top security officials sought to avoid a repeat of Saturday’s violence, in which rioters set fire to buildings, ransacked luxury stores and attacked police around the iconic Champs-Elysees.

More than 90 businesses suffered consequences from Saturday’s riot at the Champs-Elysees, 80% of which were severely damaged, Paris' Chamber of Commerce says. It has called for an “emergency plan” to support shopkeepers and employees.

Riot police stand in front of a burned store in Paris. Credit: Christophe Ena/AP/PA

What is the new strategy proposed by French authorities?

A shift in security strategy has been announced by Mr Philippe to allow police forces greater initiative on the ground to take measures against rioters and disperse disruptive crowds.

Police will use new tools, including drones and video surveillance, to help prevent violence and send rioters to trial for their actions.

"When a protest has been banned and its aim is to ransack and loot, all of those who take part it in and, in fact, protect looters, encourage them or glorify them online, are complicit and will have to face the consequences," he said.

Mr Philippe promised "nothing will change" for other peaceful, authorised protests.

Riot police officers charge as a yellow vest demonstrators fall in Paris Credit: Christophe Ena/AP/PA

Why has the movement taken to the streets and are they well supported?

The weekend's surge in violence came as the four-month-old yellow vest movement, which is pressing for more economic justice, has been dwindling.

Images of the destruction on Saturday - including from a bank fire that engulfed a residential building and threatened the lives of a mother and child - could further erode public support.

The renewed attention energised some protesters, who took to social networks to call for new protests this coming weekend as the demand lower taxes and more support for workers.