Coronavirus France: High Court declares mask warrants in major cities may continue after court challenge

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Face masks can be made mandatory in a densely populated city provided there are several areas at high risk of COVID-19 contamination, the High Court of France said on Sunday.The French Minister of Health had appealed a legal challenge to local decrees making face masks mandatory in Lyon and Strasbourg due to the active circulation of the coronavirus.

France’s High Court, which advises the government, said masks can be imposed “over large areas if the mandate is consistent and easy for citizens to enforce.”

But, they continued, the areas should be “limited – and justified – by the existence of several areas at high risk of contamination”.

The court ruled that face masks could thus be made compulsory in densely populated cities such as Lyon and Strasbourg. But in less densely populated villages or towns, masks cannot be made mandatory.

The decision came after lower courts in both cities said mask warrants should be limited to streets and times of day when cities are most populous.

The lower Lyon city court said in a press release last week that extending the mask’s mandate to the whole city was too “general and absolute” and thus interfered with “the freedom to come and go. and the rights of each in terms of their individual freedom. ”

A civil liberty group called “The Essentialists” lodged a complaint against authorities arguing that the face mask decrees were disproportionate and ineffective.

But the High Court of France said the perimeters of a mask warrant should be “large enough” for it to be clear to citizens and so they do not remove their mask multiple times.

The decision comes as the Rhône department, where Lyon is located, recorded around 400 new cases of coronavirus per day last week. The incidence rate has also skyrocketed, reaching a rate just behind Paris and Marseille, with 112 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

The area is one of the 28 French departments which is a “red zone” with more than 50 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

France has been one of the countries worst affected by COVID-19 and on Friday recorded an all-time high for the number of cases reported daily, with a total of 8,975.

The government has said it would like to do everything possible to avoid a second lockdown, including issuing local restrictions if necessary.

At the start of the crisis, French officials, like other Western officials, repeatedly insisted that masks were unnecessary to protect against COVID-19 in the general population, a move which some say , has led to an inconsistency in their post-lockout strategy.

Since then, scientists have said face masks help protect others by preventing the droplets from being passed on by people who may not be aware they have COVID-19.

Face masks have been mandatory in closed indoor spaces in France since July 18, but it was not until August that cities started making them mandatory in outdoor public spaces as COVID-19 cases began to increase dramatically across the country.

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