France to extend obligatory mask use in public spaces

Paris, Aug 11 (efe-epa).- French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Tuesday an extension to the obligatory use of masks in outdoor public spaces amid a “worrying” increase of coronavirus infections.

Castex called for more individual and collective responsibility in tackling the pandemic during a visit to the University Hospital of Montpellier.

He said he will instruct government delegates to coordinate with local authorities to make it mandatory to wear masks in public spaces as much as possible.

As of 1 August, 330 municipalities have made it compulsory to wear a mask in outdoor public spaces where there is a lot of movement of people but Castex said “we must go further”.

Infection rates have worsened in France in recent days with 2,000 daily cases compared to 1,000 a week ago, hospitalizations at 800 a week and admissions to intensive care units at 100 patients a week.

Castex described these figures as “all very worrying” and warned that there has been “less vigilance, less discipline, less solidarity”.

“If we don’t react collectively, we expose ourselves to a high epidemic risk that is difficult to control,” he added.

He warned that this would put France’s health system under stress, impact the economy and affect children returning to classes in the new school year.

“No one wants to experience it again,” he continued.

The prime minister also announced a plan to extend a ban on events involving more than 5,000 people which was due to expire on 1 September until 30 October.

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