Cyclists and other exercisers will not have to wear masks in Paris

Cyclists and anyone doing exercise will be exempt from wearing masks outdoors in Paris, police say after the city made face coverings obligatory

  • Police said people exercising and children under 11-years-old will be exempt 
  • 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 

Police said cyclists and people doing any other type of exercise will not have to wear face masks when they are outside in Paris. 

The exemption, which also applies to children under 11-years-old, comes after masks were made compulsory throughout the city after it emerged as a hotbed of coronavirus contagion that has sent cases in France soaring. 

Prime Minister Jean Castex said yesterday that masks – which were already compulsory on public transport and in enclosed spaces – will now be mandatory in all public places across the city, though did not give a date for it to come into force.

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.

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

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.

There was an ‘undeniable resurgence’ of the Covid-19 epidemic throughout France, Castex told a press conference on Thursday. 

He revealed that the ‘positivity rate’ in France – the percentage of tests that come back positive – rose from one percent in May to 3.7 percent yesterday.

In turn that has increased the R figure – or replication number – of the virus to 1.4 nationwide, meaning ten infected people are infecting 14 others on average.

More than 800 coronavirus patients are being admitted to hospital every week on average, up from 500 six weeks ago, said the prime minister.

‘The epidemic is gaining territory, and now is the time to intervene,’ he said. 

The government would do everything in its power to avoid issuing new, nationwide stay-at-home orders, the premier added.

However, he cautioned that the possibility could not be excluded entirely and localised confinements may be on the cards.  

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.   

Masks were already compulsory in some part of Paris – including public transport, markets and indoor spaces – but will now become mandatory in all public places

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.

Pandemic slashes number of tourists in Paris by 70 per cent

Tourism in Paris, one of the world’s most visited cities, has plunged by almost 70 per cent due to the coronavirus, a senior official said on Thursday.

Tourist numbers fell by almost 14million in the first six months of 2020 compared to 2019, regional president Valerie Pecresse said Thursday.

Meanwhile income generated from tourists fell by almost two thirds – from £9.1billion to £3.4billion – raising fears for half a million jobs in the region. 

A near-empty tourist bus drives through Paris, past a detachment of French soldiers who guard the streets

‘Tourism is an extremely precious economic activity for Ile-de-France which represents 500,000 jobs and 7 to 8 per cent of growth,’ Pecresse said.

‘For the past four years, we had been announcing record number of visitors. So it is with great sadness that we have seen the pandemic shatter an extremely dynamic and flourishing sector,’ Pecresse added. 

As many planes remain grounded and long-haul flights limited, 68 per cent fewer international tourists visited the city of lights, whereas the drop was of 54 per cent for national tourists.

Tourists from abroad tend to spend between twice and three times as much as those who live in France, meaning that the fall in income was much sharper.

Half of the region’s businesses expect an improvement of affairs by the end of October, thanks to French clients and tourists from neighbouring European countries.

But the 80 per cent drop of reservations for long-haul flights means many entrepreneurs remain wary.

A woman in a mask walks around the deserted exterior of the Louvre museum in Paris

Paris and its region are a safe destination, Pecresse said Thursday, adding that she was dismayed to see that Germany and Belgium had marked the region as a risky destination.

The Ile-de-France region is working on a health security label, comprising of very strict measures, to reassure foreign tourists, Pecresse said.

France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Thursday that face masks will become compulsory throughout Paris after a recent surge in cases.

Masks are already obligatory on public transport nationwide and in most enclosed public spaces.

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