Masks become compulsory in Paris as French coronavirus cases soar

Masks become compulsory throughout Paris as France admits coronavirus R rate is likely to be as high as 1.4

  • France’s coronavirus cases are soaring, with 5,429 infections logged Wednesday
  • Paris and Ile-de-France region in which it sits are at the epicentre of the outbreak
  • PM Jean Castex said masks will now be compulsory in public places in the city
  • He said R figure is now 1.4, well above 1 figure needed to flatten infection curve 

Face masks will become compulsory throughout Paris after the city emerged as a hotbed of coronavirus contagion that has sent cases in France soaring. 

Prime Minister Jean Castex said that masks – which were already compulsory on public transport and in enclosed spaces – will now be mandatory in all public places across the city.

Mr Castex said the move is necessary to curb a new wave of infection that has its epicentre in Paris and the Ile-de-France region.

France recorded 5,429 cases of coroanvirus on Wednesday – the country’s highest daily total since March, and third-largest since the pandemic began.  

The country’s R number is now 1.4, Castex added, well above the crucial 1 figure needed to keep the curve of infection level.

Jean Castex, France’s Prime Minister, has announced that masks will be made compulsory in all public spaces across Paris, as the city emerged as a hotbed of coronavirus contagion

France has seen coronavirus cases soar in recent days, with 5,429 cases logged on Wednesday, the country’s third-highest total since the pandemic began

‘The virus is spreading all over the country,’ he said.

‘The spread of the epidemic can be exponential if we do not react quickly,’ Castex told reporters.

Grandparents are being told not to pick up their grandchildren from school as classrooms are due to reopen next week.

The government is trying to stop hospital from becoming overwhelmed by an influx of elderly and vulnerable patients, as happened during the first wave.

So far, deaths in France have not kept pace with rising cases, as Mr Castex said it is mostly young people who are catching the disease.

Pointing to low hospital admission figures, he insisted in an interview on Wednesday that – despite the new case tolls – France is still in a much better position than earlier in the year.

He insisted that there are no plans for a return to the country-wide lockdown that was imposed in March, saying French people must ‘learn to live with the virus.’  

Castex insisted there is no need to return to general lockdown because it is mostly young people getting infected, meaning hospital admissions remain low (pictured, testing in Paris)

Despite rising cases deaths have not followed suit, which is thought to be because most new cases are in people aged between 25 and 45, who are least at risk of serious infection

Paris is the second French city to impose laws making masks compulsory, after Toulouse brought in the same measure on Friday last week.

Toulouse is France’s fourth-largest city and and officials fear that a mass movement of people as the summer break draws to a close will lead to a spike in infections.   

Office workers across France will have to wear masks in all enclosed work spaces from next month, including in corridors and lobbies.  

 Labour Minister Elisabeth Borne met industry leaders on Tuesday to discuss the new measure, which she said was based on the advice of the government’s public health council.

It took into account a growing scientific consensus that the coronavirus is transmitted not only in large drops projected when a person coughs or sneezes, but also in smaller ones that can remain suspended in air breathed out by infected people, she said.

France has already made mask-wearing obligatory on public transport and in enclosed shared public spaces such as shops and government offices, but has left their use in offices to the discretion of employers until now. 

This was criticised by a group of medical experts in an open letter in Liberation newspaper, in which they compared virus accumulation in enclosed spaces to ‘cigarette smoke’.

‘And the more the virus accumulates in the air – either because of a long exposure time or because of a large number of excreters – the more we risk contamination,’ they said.

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