Some French cities and towns have made face masks compulsory in busy outdoor areas, as the country suffered its biggest rise in coronavirus cases in two months.
A total of 1,604 new infections were recorded nationwide on Thursday, following 1,695 in the previous 24-hour period – the largest daily increases since late May.
And as officials scrambled to avoid a second wave of COVID-19, the southern city of Toulouse joined Nice, Lille and other municipalities near the Belgian border in expanding rules around face coverings.
Rules have now come into force there making masks mandatory in open air markets, flea markets and garage sales, along with some of the centre’s main streets.
François Chollet, the councillor in charge of the city’s efforts to halt the transmission of coronavirus, told local media: “These are places for strolling, conviviality, festivity, at a time of the year when we are outdoors late at night.
“Friendliness means that precautions can sometimes be a little loose. We are convinced that there is a major risk in these places.”
It comes after the news Paris would seek to make face masks compulsory in certain outdoor areas, in a move to prevent a new spike in cases.
French newspaper Le Monde reported that mayor Anne Hidalgo would make a formal request with the capital’s prefecture about the measure.
That followed the government’s decision to give local authorities the power to order the wearing of masks in outdoor public spaces.
Outdoor areas targeted under the new restrictions in Paris would be shopping streets, the banks of the river Seine, parks and gardens, open food markets and all areas where tourists or people have to stand in line.
The national government’s top scientific body said this week of the crisis in the country: “The situation is precarious.
“We could at any moment tip into a scenario that is less under control, like in Spain.
“It is highly likely that we will experience a second epidemic wave this autumn or winter.”
France has had more than 30,000 coronavirus-related deaths and in excess of 229,000 cases.
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