Masks now mandatory in outdoor places across French cities

The French authorities have ordered people to wear face masks in outdoor public places in many major cities as the COVID-19 spread and the admission to intensive care units have increased again after a month-long decline.

“The prefects can now, in coordination with health authorities and elected officials, impose the wearing of masks in busy places where physical distancing is impossible,” Prime Minister Jean Castex tweeted on Monday.

Amidst fears of a second pandemic wave, France has made wearing mask compulsory in busy pedestrians streets and uncovered markets in addition to tourists spots in many cities, including Lille, Nice and La Mayenne, reports Xinhua news agency.

Wearing face mask has already been mandatory since July 20 for all people older than 10 years in all enclosed spaces, such as restaurants and hotels, shops, covered markets, museums, cinemas, concert halls, places of worship, airports and stations, libraries, vacation centres, administrations and banks.

Any person who refuses to apply to the rule will pay a fine of 135 euros ($158).

“We must not let down the guard. The virus is not on holiday, and neither are we,” Castex said during a visit to the northern city of Lille.

“I call on the French to remain very vigilant because the fight against this virus…depends on each of us,” he added.

“We must all understand that the objective is simple: protect ourselves against the virus without bringing economic and social life to a halt, that is to say avoiding a general confinement.”

A total of 191,295 people have been infected with the coronavirus as of Monday in the country, including 556 new infections confirmed in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry data showed.

Some 289 clusters are still active, of which five new ones were detected in one day as the government struggles to contain a rash of fresh infections that have sprung up since movement restrictions have been lifted and people have been allowed to travel and meet friends and families during summer holidays.

Some 5,198 people are hospitalized with coronavirus infection, 100 fewer than the number recorded a day before.

The number of patients in intensive increased by 13 to 384, erasing a long-running fall reported early April, the Ministry said.

With 29 new deaths recorded in the last 24 hours, coronavirus-related fatalities in France rose to 30,294, it added.