French cities tighten coronavirus rules

A general view of the Fort de Bregancon, French presidential summer residence, in Bormes-les-Mimosas, southern France. EPA-EFE/SEBASTIEN NOGIER

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Face masks may need to be worn more widely in a number of French cities as cases continue to rise (masks are already required in all enclosed public spaces nationwide, including public transport).

In the Nord department adjacent to Belgium, the government’s top official said “reinforced measures” would be announced Friday, possibly making masks compulsory outdoors, in response to a surge in cases across the border.

The mayor of Saint-Malo, whose walled city has drawn tens of thousands of French tourists who opted to stay in the country for the summer holidays, said masks were now mandatory inside the old city and on the ramparts for everyone aged 11 and over.

“Masks are essential protection for limiting the virus’s spread,” Mayor Gilles Lurton said, after health authorities said the Ille-et-Vilaine region had 44 new cases on Wednesday alone.

Starting on Friday, masks will be required in open-air markets in Orleans, central France, and after 9:00 pm long the Loire river, where crowds of people have been gathering in the evenings.

The mayors of Bayonne and the nearby Atlantic resort of Biarritz also announced that face masks would be compulsory in their city centres starting next week. Biarritz will also ban access to its beaches at night to prevent parties being held there.

While far below the peak of crisis, the “R” rate of viral transmission – one of the key measures of how fast the virus is spreading – has risen to 1.3 nationwide. That means 10 infected people are infecting 13 others on average.

Read more via AFP/AP/France 24

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