Macron panic: French President seeking to ‘re-establish grip’ as nation faces COVID surge

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From September 1, workers in France will be expected to wear masks in all shared enclosed spaces like corridors and meeting rooms. However in regions considered to be at lower risk from coronavirus, people will be able to remove their masks if buildings have good ventilation and plastic screens between desks. BBC correspondent Hugh Schofield explained Emmanuel Macron’s fears as the measures are introduced amid a rise in case.

He told viewers: “There’s a sense that a grip needs to be re-established on the virus at this point in the year when people are going back to schools and work.

“The level of home working is going down.

“The end of the holidays means that people are going back to work.

“So the Government’s long decided since two or three weeks ago that September 1 would be when there is a step up in the kind of normalisation of mask wearing across the country.”

Mr Schofield continued: “In offices this will make a big difference to people.

“It’s actually quite a complicated picture because there are all sorts of exemptions which have been negotiated with the unions over the last day or so.

“But broadly the picture is that in the office you have to wear a mask now.

“That is going to make life uncomfortable and difficult maybe, but it’s certainly going to change things for millions of people.”

French Prime Minister Jean Castex justified the measures as a way to avoid another general lockdown.

Face coverings are now mandatory for the regions Lyon, Villeurbanne and the Rhone area.

Paris and several surrounding areas saw masks made compulsory a week earlier.

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The Rhone department was recently listed as a “red zone”, where the virus is considered to be in active circulation.

The number of such zones has risen from two to 21 in France.

France has experienced a worrying continuous spike in coronavirus cases.

Two weeks after the lockdown was eased, daily numbers were recorded in the 200s.

Now more than 5,000 people have been confirmed positive in a day at the end of August.

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