Face masks made compulsory in all indoor public places in France
Ross Cullen in Paris

From Monday, France has made face masks compulsory in all indoor public places.

They had already been obligatory on public transport, but the government has now brought in stricter measures to try to fight a growing number of clusters of COVID-19 cases in the country.



The new measure was due to be implemented on 1 August, but ministers brough it forward because of fears of a second wave of infections.

Olivier Veran, the health minister, urged the public to continue respecting social distancing measures and underlined the government's continuing commitment to testing.

For the French government, it's a balancing act between trying to avoid another lockdown and acting fast to try to control new outbreaks. "The best way to prepare ourselves for a possible resurgence of the epidemic is to strengthen our prevention efforts," said Jean Castex, the prime minister.

"Above all, we must avoid a return to strict and broad forms of containment, the human and economic cost of which we are fully aware of," he added.

Face masks were a rare sight in France before the pandemic, but they are very much a part of the new everyday life. They must now be worn in any indoor space including banks, bookstores and shopping centers.

At the peak of the outbreak in France, the government cautioned against wearing face masks as it urged the public to leave enough supplies for health workers. After lockdown, the decision to force customers to wear one was up to individual businesses.

Now that option has been removed and a $150 fine has been introduced for non-compliance.