Face masks will become compulsory in all enclosed public spaces in France from August 1 to prevent a second wave of Coronavirus.
In a televised address on Bastille Day – the country’s July 14 national holiday – President Emmanuel Macron said he also hoped to see tests for the killer disease made available to everyone.
“We do have signs that Coronavirus rates are going up a bit – we must warn people and prepare,” said Mr Macron.
“And so, we must continue to apply barrier gestures. On this, we see weaknesses. I have been asked for new measures, and the government and I hope that in the coming weeks, we will make the mask mandatory in all enclosed public places.”
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At present, masks are only compulsory on public transport, and in shops where managers ask customers to put them on.
The new measure is expected to be accompanied by a €135 (£122) fine for anyone refusing to wear a mask in an enclosed public space, whether a shop, a cinema, a bar or a restaurant.
Mr Macron said he also wanted “our young” to be more responsible when out in public’, as he confirmed August 1 – the beginning of France’s peak holiday season – as also the start date for the radical new measures. ..
“When we look at mortality, it is overwhelmingly the oldest who die,’ he said.
“And so the young, because they have so-called asymptomatic forms of covid-19, are taking too many risks.
“Simply put, when they take these risks, they accelerate the spread of the virus and they can spread it to others.”
France was among the country’s hardest hit by the first heavy wave of Coronavirus that struck earlier this year.
The country’s Covid-19 death toll has exceeded 30,000, meaning it has the sixth-highest number of fatalities in the global pandemic after America, Brazil, Britain, Italy and Mexico.
Some 7000 people are currently hospitalised suffering from the disease, but Mr Macron said he wanted to do all he could to avoid another lockdown.
“I don’t want to do this again for the country, and we are doing everything to avoid a new wave and to have a different approach if it appears. This is why we need more testing.”