PARIS - France's two biggest cities, Paris and Marseille, have tipped back into the highest-risk coronavirus red zone — with the French capital seeing a sixfold rise in cases in just two weeks.
French authorities have widened mask-wearing requirements in outdoor spaces, following a troubling increase in cases. For two days in a row, the country has registered more than 3,000 daily cases — a level not seen in months. Violators of the mask rules face a $160 fine.
Even so, not all French are following them. Here in Paris, the patchwork of regulations can be confusing.
“It’s like super complicated. It’s like one street you’re supposed to, the other you’re not." Antoni Calmon is a doctor. He’s not wearing a mask, although the Paris street he’s on requires it.
"I think we should all wear the mask, everywhere.”
Down the same street, Lea and Pierre—who decline to give their last names — are also violating mask rules. With streets so quiet they say — with many Parisians away on summer holiday — what’s the point?
France has had one of Europe’s highest coronavirus caseloads—totaling more than 240,000 since the start of the pandemic, and more than 30,000 deaths. Like much of the region, it managed to flatten the curve after weeks of lockdown.
Now the numbers are rebounding. Late last week, Britain added France to its quarantine list — and France reciprocated.
Experts say young people, out partying after extensive confinements, account for a major source of the increase. The workplace is another.
Spain, Britain and Germany are also seeing resurging caseloads — and new restrictions. Coronavirus cases are also growing in Greece and Romania, relatively spared until now.
Here in France, authorities want to avoid another costly lockdown. Health Director Jerome Salomon told local radio the fate of the virus was in French hands. He urged massive testing.
But in Paris, Calmon says he worries people aren't taking that advice seriously enough. He recently recovered from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
“I have to say even when I was sick, I sent a message to all the people I was in contact with … and not even 50% of the people took the test,” Calmon said.
He believes France still has a tough road ahead.