France speeds up plans to mandate face masks over COVID-19 fears
by Blandine Henault, Matthieu Prottard, additional reporting by Claude Chendjou and Elizabeth Pineau; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Frances Kerry/Reuters
PARIS (Reuters) – France accelerated plans on Thursday to make it compulsory to wear face masks in enclosed public spaces because of concerns about renewed flare-ups of COVID-19.
President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that mask-wearing would be mandatory in places such as shops from Aug. 1, citing signs that the coronavirus was “coming back a bit”.
But on Thursday Prime Minister Jean Castex said the order would take effect next week. Until now, it has been mandatory to wear face coverings only on public transport and in public spaces where social distancing is not possible.
The Mayenne prefecture in the northwest said the wearing of face masks was now compulsory in its main city, Laval, and five other municipalities – Bonchamp-lès-Laval, Changé, L’Huisserie, Louverné and Saint-Berthevin.
There has been a localised flare-up of COVID-19 cases in the region, and it has now been re-classified by the health ministry as a zone of heightened risk.
Macron also said on Tuesday that he wanted coronavirus testing available for everyone, without having to be referred by a doctor. He said the expected job losses because of the pandemic posed a major challenge.