PARIS – French riot police are being deployed near Marseille to enforce mask requirements as the country registers a spike in the COVID-19 cases. Government Spokesperson Gabriel Attal announced on Monday that around 130 police officers are being sent to Marseille, a coastal city in southeastern France, Euronews reported.
It comes after local authorities made face masks mandatory in all farmers’ markets and in several neighborhoods. 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 French 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 reportedly died last month in Bayonne, southwest 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 getting aboard a bus to wear face coverings.
France reportedly 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 deaths have been attributed 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.
Still, anti-mask sentiment is spreading. Hundreds demonstrated in Brussels and Madrid over the weekend against being forced to wear masks, as it goes against their civil rights. According to a study commissioned by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and released in June in The Lancet, wearing a face mask allegedly decreases the risk of infection to the wearer by 65 percent.
However, the credibility of the World Health Organisation (WHO) took a heavy hit after the organization was found to have conducted fake medical studies regarding the use of hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 (better known as simply the coronavirus).