Coronavirus: France sends in riot police to enforce face mask rules in Marseille

A woman wearing a face mask to protect against coronavirus, near the beach, in Saint Jean de Luz, southwestern France.
A woman wearing a face mask to protect against coronavirus, near the beach, in Saint Jean de Luz, southwestern France. Copyright AP Photo/Bob Edme
Copyright AP Photo/Bob Edme
By Euronews with Associated Press
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Some 130 riot police officers will be deployed where local authorities have expanded the face mask requirement to several outdoor places.


French riot police are being deployed near Marseille to help enforce mask requirements as the country registers a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Government spokesperson Gabriel Attal announced on Monday that 130 police officers are being sent to Marseille, a coastal city in south-eastern France. It comes after local authorities made face masks mandatory in all farmers' markets and in several neighbourhoods.

Face masks are mandatory in all public indoor places across France as well as on public transport but town halls can expand the requirement to outdoor areas if they feel it's necessary.

Several major cities including Paris, Toulouse, and Lille have introduced such measures in crowded places to stem the spread of the virus as the rising temperatures have been accompanied by an increasing number of cases.

Several violent incidents have been reported over people's refusal to wear masks.

A bus driver died last month in Bayonne, south-west France, after two men attacked him when he reminded them they ought to wear masks. 

A female nurse was also beaten last week in Seine-Saint-Denis, just north of Paris, after she asked two teenagers climbing aboard a bus to wear face coverings.

France recorded more than 3,300 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday — the highest tally since the country started easing lockdown restrictions in mid-May — followed by just over 3,000 new infections on Sunday, according to data from the Health Ministry.

More than 30,400 people are known to have lost their lives to COVID-19 in France since the beginning of the outbreak — the seventh-highest tally in the world.

An uptick in cases in Italy — the EU's most heavily impacted country — prompted the authorities to shut down all dance venues and to make masks mandatory everywhere from 18:00 to 06:00.

Similar measures were also introduced in Spain, where COVID-19 hospitalizations have quintupled since early July.

But anti-mask sentiment is spreading. Several hundred people demonstrated in Brussels and Madrid over the weekend against masks, arguing that being forced to wear one goes against their civil rights.

According to a study commissioned by the World Health Organisation and released in June in The Lancet, wearing a face mask decreases the risk of infection to the wearer by 65 per cent.

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