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Coronavirus France: Riot police enforce Marseilles mask-wearing

The French government is sending riot police to the Marseille region to help enforce mask requirements in an effort to slow the rising infections.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal announced on Monday that 130 police officers were being sent to the Marseille region after it expanded its outdoor mask requirements to all farmers’ markets and more neighbourhoods Friday. 

Following the announcement, the nation saw scattered incidents of violence by people refusing to wear masks. 

Last week it was revealed that only Paris and Marseilles have major outbreaks while most of the country remains largely unaffected.

France’s two largest cities – which have made face masks compulsory in many public open spaces – have both been declared high-risk Covid-19 zones, giving authorities more power to impose stricter control measures.

This means that councils can shut down bars and restaurants, close roads to traffic, and restrict access to public transport.

Areas including Essonne and the popular holiday-destination Alpes-Maritimes have also urged locals to be ‘vigilant’ about the spread.  

Infections have been speeding up around France in recent days, with 3,015 new cases Sunday, one of the highest daily spikes since the country lifted a strict two-month lockdown in May. 

More than 30,400 people have died with the virus in France, one of the highest death tolls in the world.

On Sunday, three new cases of suspected coronavirus were revealed by French football giants Marseille on Sunday, just five days before they are due to kick-off the new Ligue 1 season. 

The cases are amongst the ‘workforce’, a statement said, and if confirmed would take the number at the club to four in the last four days.

Andre Villas-Boas’ side already cancelled a friendly on Friday against Stuttgart of Germany as a precaution. 

Under health protocols adopted in recent weeks which are awaiting final approval, the four cases could mean Marseille’s scheduled opener against St Etienne on Friday may be called off.

At least 37 Ligue 1 players from 11 clubs have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks.

The vast majority of them contracted the virus after resuming training in June, leading to quarantine and a flurry of cancelled pre-season matches.

With only one positive case announced, fellow top-flight sides Bordeaux, Dijon, Lens, Monaco and Nimes have not seen their preparations too disrupted.

On the other hand, Lille (with four cases), Saint-Etienne (five), Montpellier (six), Nantes (seven) and Strasbourg (nine) have all seen their pre-season affected.

Montpellier, Nantes and Strasbourg have had to cancel several friendlies.

‘When the players become negative again, we will be able to use them. But in what state, I do not know,’ said Strasbourg coach Thierry Laurey.  

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