Masks compulsory across Paris as Covid-19 cases surge

Jean Castex

Jean Castex

But prime minister Jean Castex said the government is still determined to reopen schools next week, get workers back on the job and kick off the Tour de France cycling race on Saturday.

The measure applies to all pedestrians as well as cyclists in Paris and its suburbs in an area that includes three neighbouring departments that form the Petite Couronn inner ring around Paris, a densely populated area with a total population of almost seven million people.

Castex said the government would do everything in its power to avoid issuing new nationwide stay-at-home orders, but the possibility could not be excluded entirely and localised lockdowns may be on the cards.

He acknowledged that the rising cases this summer - attributed mostly to people going on holiday with family and friends - came earlier than authorities expected.

Masks are now compulsory in the busiest areas of many French towns and cities, including the capital.

The Paris region is one of 21 French departments on a map of red zones with active virus circulation.

Castex asked Paris authorities to start requiring mask use everywhere, instead of in just select neighbourhoods. Marseille already mandates masks. These could include prohibiting the movement of persons and vehicles, limiting access to public transport and restricting transport on planes or boats unless it is essential for family or professional reasons or health needs. Paris was among cities that earlier demanded masks in specific neighborhoods, with police leveling fines after a period of warnings.

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Face-masks will be compulsory in outdoor areas throughout Paris as of Friday after a post-lockdown record of 6,100 new coronavirus infections in 24 hours.

The number of deaths from coronavirus increased by 32 to 30,576 from Tuesday. On Wednesday, the country recorded 5,429 new infections, which was a new post-lockdown record.

The number of virus patients in French hospitals remains low so far despite the jump in infections but it has been steadily rising in recent days.

The government's message yesterday was mixed - while expressing alarm about growing cases, Castex insisted that "living with the virus" is the new national mantra and he wants people to resume work in September as broadly as possible.

In his statement, Castex said that infections were surging in young people and told grandparents not to pick up their grandchildren from school.

Masks are being made compulsory for children aged 11 and older when they return to school next week and will be provided for free to those at particular risk or can not afford it.

In Spain, school children over the age of six will be required to wear masks in classrooms under new plans to reopen schools unveiled on Thursday by the Spanish government.

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