France gives cities power to require face masks; mandate imposed in Lille

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France gave local governments the power on Friday to make the wearing of face masks compulsory in public, and a mandate was imposed in the northern city of Lille, as the country fights a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

The seven-day average of new coronavirus infections in France has moved above 1,000 per day for the first time since the first half of May, when France began lifting a nationwide lockdown. Officials hope local measures can prevent a second wave of infections without disruptive nationwide action.

Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Twitter that the decision to impose a mask mandate “can be taken locally, depending on the situation of the epidemic in each region”.

The government official responsible for Lille announced that wearing face masks would become compulsory from Monday in pedestrian areas and parks in the city, which lies near Belgium.

French health authorities reported 1,377 additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the total to 186,573.

The rise in infections in France follows an earlier surge in Spain, adding to concern that Europe could be headed for a second wave.

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