PARIS – Nineteen new departments become ‘red zones’

In a press conference that lasted nearly two hours, Prime Minister Jean Castex, along with Health Minister Olivier Véra and Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, presented France’s updated COVID-19 measures on Thursday.

The number of “red zones” where the virus is in active circulation has soared from two to 21 and the spread could become “exponential” unless France acts fast, Castex warned.

Promising to do everything to avoid another widespread lockdown, he said wearing a mask would become mandatory in the capital from 8:00 on Friday for all pedestrians in public areas, as well as for people on bicycles, motorcycles, scooters and a variety of other mobility vehicles.

While individual streets and areas in the capital already have rules on wearing face-coverings, this new rule will be far more extensive, covering not only Paris but its inner ring of Seine-Saint-Denis, Hauts-de-Seine and Val-de-Marne.

Masks will also become mandatory for French schoolchildren aged 11 and over.

“The virus is progressing throughout France, but some departments are more affected than others,” Castex said, adding that wearing masks will be “mandatory in all closed spaces where there are several people”.

(Anne Damiani |

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