Emmanuel Macron backlash: France fury as coronavirus mask rule DELAYED – ‘Why wait?’

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Doctors who wrote an open letter in the French press over the weekend demanding the mandatory wearing of face coverings have welcomed the President’s decision but criticised him for delaying its enforcement until next month.

Losing time is harmful. Waiting two more weeks is too much

Antoine Pelissolo

Aides insist Mr Macron had decided on August 1 “to give everyone time to organise themselves, for example the stores, and thus allow a smooth transition”.

But experts warned the two-week delay could prove costly.

Medic Antoine Pelissolo said: “It is urgent to apply this measure. We know that there can be a resurgence of the epidemic at any time.

“Losing time is harmful. Waiting two more weeks is too much.”

Bruno Mégarbane, head of the medical resuscitation department at the Lariboisière hospital in Paris, said: “Now that we know with certainty that the virus is circulating, and that even in some places there is a risk of reaching a larger circulation, it is a very simple measure of application which can prevent the spread.

“It’s easy, inexpensive, so why not do it?

“The price we will have to pay if we do not take the necessary preventive measures will be extreme.”

Anne Levy-Mozziconacci, a geneticist at a hospital in Marseille, told BFMTV: “The idea is good, but I wonder why wait until August 1?”

Another doctor, Axel Kahn, said: “I think we could have gone faster by indicating that in enclosed spaces, wearing a mask is compulsory.

“Confinement was a much more restrictive measure and that was only announced 24 hours in advance.”

Coronavirus has killed more than 30,000 people in France and has been on the decline but Mr Macron said it was spreading again in some places as France opens up beaches, bars and restaurants after a two-month lockdown.

He said: “We have some signs that it’s coming back a bit. “Faced with that, we must anticipate and prepare.

“I ask fellow citizens to wear masks as much as possible when they are outside, and especially so when they are in an enclosed space.

“We will put ourselves in a position where we could, for example, make it completely mandatory from August 1.”

France has required people to wear face coverings on public transport and in public spaces where social distancing is not possible but has not mandated the wearing of masks in shops until now.

But some doctors fear the mandatory measures have been announced too late and warned it would be difficult to get the French to comply.

Trauma doctor Christophe Prud’homme said: “We should have had this speech as soon as lockdown started to be eased.

“We let a certain laxity take hold and then we want to reinstate coercive measures.

“These contradictions are not convincing the population, and if people are not convinced, they will not respect the measures.”

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Authorities in the northwestern French region of Mayenne have ordered people to start wearing face masks from today after a rise of coronavirus infections there.

The Mayenne prefecture said masks would be compulsory in its main city Laval as well as five other municipalities – Bonchamp-lès-Laval, Changé, L’Huisserie, Louverné and Saint-Berthevin.

French health minister Olivier Veran told France Inter radio: “In Mayenne, the situation is problematic today.”

French Prime Minister Jean Castes confused matters further today when he told MPs face coverings would be compulsory from next week.

(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)

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