French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced mask mandate for Parisians beginning Friday.
  • Masks will become mandatory for all pedestrians and cyclists in Paris starting on Friday.
  • On Wednesday, France reported 5,429 new daily infections, a level not seen since April.
  • "The spread of the epidemic could become exponential if we do not react quickly," French Prime Minister Jean Castex said.
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On Thursday, French Prime Minister Jean Castex encouraged local authorities to impose new restrictions to address the net increase coronavirus cases in France, including a compulsory mask mandate for all Parisians.

The virus is circulating in nearly 20% of France's regions, with the number of "red zones" rising from two to 21, BBC News reported. Being categorized as a red zone allows local authorities to impose additional restrictions if necessary. 

Beginning on Friday morning, all pedestrians in the city and its inner ring of suburbs will be required to wear face-coverings when in public areas. The mask mandate has been extended to all bicyclists and people on motorcycles and scooters as well. 

"The deterioration of the health situation…has led the prefect to take this strong measure in interest of the population," Paris police prefecture said in a statement.

The mandatory mask requirement for Paris, one of the 21 red zones, follows one for Marseilles, France's third-largest city. Marseilles, which has been categorized as a red zone for several days, also imposed a curfew for all bars and restaurants Wednesday evening to limit the spread of the virus.

"The spread of the epidemic could become exponential if we do not react quickly," Castex said, adding that there was an "undeniable resurgence of the epidemic." 

Nearly 300,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in France since February, with over 30,000 deaths from the virus.

France reported 5,429 new daily infections on Wednesday, a level not seen since lockdowns were imposed in April, Reuters reported.

Despite the surge in cases of the virus, schools across the country are opening up for in-person instruction. 

In his statement, Castex said that infections were surging in young people and told grandparents not to pick up their grandchildren from school. He said the country needed to "do everything" to get people back into school and work. 

Labs in France are currently testing 830,000 people each week and aim to reach 1 million tests weekly by September, when schools reopen, Castex said. 

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