Coronavirus: Paris orders mandatory wearing of masks in busy outdoor areas

Visitors at the entrance of the Louvre museum in Paris last week. The new order, which applies to people aged 11 and over, covers busy outdoor areas in the French capital. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Visitors at the entrance of the Louvre museum in Paris last week. The new order, which applies to people aged 11 and over, covers busy outdoor areas in the French capital. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • Parisians and holidaymakers strolling along the banks of the River Seine or browsing open-air markets in Paris must wear a face mask from today, after the authorities imposed new measures to curb a rise in coronavirus infections.

The order, which applies to people aged 11 and over, covers busy outdoor areas in the French capital, although tourist sites such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysees boulevard were not listed.

Data showed the virus had begun circulating more widely in Paris and its lower-income suburbs since the middle of last month.

The rate of positive tests in the greater Paris region now stands at 2.4 per cent, compared with a national average of 1.6 per cent.

After tough lockdown measures slowed infection rates, many European countries are watching new clusters flare up after easing curbs to try to limit the economic damage and alleviate public frustration.

France has made it compulsory to wear a face mask in closed public spaces such as shops and banks since July 21, and Paris joins a growing list of cities ordering people to wear masks in busy zones outdoors, including Toulouse, Lille and Biarritz.

Those breaching the order face a fine of €135 (S$220).

The penalty rises to six months in prison for anyone violating it more than three times in a month.

The Paris order will last a month.

The number of people in France infected with the coronavirus rose by 2,288 last Friday, a new post-lockdown high.

Meanwhile in Belgium, resort towns on the Belgian coast announced measures yesterday to turn away day trippers after beach fights broke out between the police and youth told to leave for refusing to respect coronavirus safety measures.

 
 
 
 

Knokke-Heist and Blankenberge, two popular towns on the Flemish northern coast near the border with the Netherlands, said they took the step so as to "guarantee public security".

Police arrested several people on Saturday on Blankenberge beach after a brawl broke out between officers and youth they had told to leave for refusing to respect safety measures.

The ringleaders were barred from the resort which was also closed to day trippers, said Blankenberge Mayor Daphne Dumery.

"We need a quiet period... Anyone who comes to Blankenberge must have a good reason to be here. With this step, we are trying to restore calm," she added.

The nearby upmarket resort of Knokke-Heist took a similar step after "dozens of incidents, during the day and the night", a city council statement said.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2020, with the headline 'Paris orders mandatory wearing of masks in busy outdoor areas'. Print Edition | Subscribe