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France makes face masks compulsory in indoor public spaces

France will make wearing masks indoors compulsory from next week amid 'signs of a resurgence' of coronavirus.

Obligatory only on public transport until now, masks will also become mandatory in shops and other indoor places frequented by the public, Prime Minister Jean Castex said in the Senate. 

It is not clear whether there will be any penalties for not wearing a mask.  

The country's R rate - the number of people an infected person can pass the disease onto - is edging above one, health authorities warned last week.

Keeping the rate below 1 is considered key to easing lockdown because it means the outbreak is shrinking as not everyone who catches it passes it on. 

In the latest official data, released Wednesday, France had seen 133 new coronavirus patients hospitalised in 24 hours, and 17 new admissions to intensive care.

France will make wearing masks indoors compulsory from next week after a rise in coronavirus cases

France has seen a total of 210,568 confirmed cases of the killer bug, and 30,123 deaths

This was down from a high of 4,281 people hospitalised in one day in April.

Health Minister Olivier Veran earlier noted 'weak signs of a resurgence' in the coronavirus epidemic that has claimed over 30,000 lives in France to date.

'We are witnessing in certain hospitals in Paris weak signs of an epidemic resurgence, which is why I urge the French to remain particularly vigilant, active, against the virus,' he told public radio. 

Veran said an uptick in hospital admissions and telephone calls to emergency services were indicators, not yet worrying, that require 'special attention' to the possibility of an epidemic upturn.

Obligatory only on public transport until now, masks will also become mandatory in shops and other indoor places frequented by the public, Prime Minister Jean Castex said in the Senate (pictured today)

France has all but emerged from a weeks-long countrywide lockdown to contain the Covid-19 epidemic, which placed immense pressure on its hospital system.

While the stay-at-home orders helped flatten the infection curve, it caused what Castex described Thursday as 'the most severe recession since the creation of the national accounts'.

France's economic contraction for 2020 is predicted to be about 11 percent, he said.

While most businesses in France have reopened, some group activities remain restricted and the government has appealed to its citizens to behave responsibly to prevent a damaging second infection wave.

On Tuesday, President Emmanuel Macron (pictured yesterday) said masks should become compulsory in public places with effect from August 1

France, like many other countries, counselled against mask-wearing at the start of the epidemic, urging members of the public to reserve limited masks for healthcare workers.

The country has since embarked on a mass production campaign, and on Tuesday, President Emmanuel Macron said masks should become compulsory in public places with effect from August 1.

The announcement was widely welcomed even though some questioned the need for a two-week delay.

Castex said Thursday that an August 1 start date appeared 'late' to many, and announced 'the decree will enter into force next week.'

Regarding mask-wearing in office buildings, the premier said employers will need to consider 'an evolution of health protocols governing the activities concerned.'

France has seen a total of 210,568 confirmed cases of the killer bug, and 30,123 deaths.

Authorities in the northwestern French region of Mayenne today ordered people to start wearing face masks after a rise of coronavirus infections there.

France, like many other countries, counselled against mask-wearing at the start of the epidemic, urging members of the public to reserve limited masks for healthcare workers (visitors wearing face masks in Disneyland Paris)

The Mayenne prefecture said masks would be compulsory in its main city Laval as well as five other municipalities.

French health minister Olivier Veran told France Inter radio: 'In Mayenne, the situation is problematic today.'

Up to now, France has required people to wear face coverings on public transport and in public spaces where social distancing is not possible, but has not mandated the wearing of masks in shops.

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