TOULOUSE, France (AFP) — Toulouse became the first French city Wednesday to declare face masks compulsory outdoors, in a bid to halt the quickening spread of the coronavirus.
Toulouse is France’s fourth-largest city and officials there fear that a mass movement of people as the summer break draws to a close will lead to a spike in infections.
Face masks are already compulsory on public transport in France and indoors in public places.
Additionally, many French towns and cities, including Paris and Toulouse, have used discretionary powers to make masks obligatory in certain areas — often busy streets, near tourist hotspots and at outdoor food markets.
Toulouse officials said masks would be compulsory outdoors across the city starting Friday, from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. the next day, for all people aged 12 and over, including those on bikes and kick-scooters.
New infections across France have been increasing in recent weeks and the numbers of people admitted to hospital and to intensive care have been rising as well.
France’s third-most populated city Lyon said Wednesday masks would become compulsory in its busiest sectors from Saturday.
On Tuesday, Labor Minister Elisabeth Borne announced masks will be required in all shared, indoor workspaces starting next month, including in meeting rooms, corridors, change rooms and open-plan offices.
The coronavirus outbreak has claimed more than 30,400 lives in France so far.
After initially casting doubt on the value of masks as an infection barrier, the French government has recently been promoting their use as a valuable epidemic aid along with social distancing and regular hand sanitizing.
© Agence France-Presse