July 20, 2020 / 11:24 AM / 23 days ago

'It makes sense': French shoppers take compulsory masks in their stride

People, wearing protective face masks, walk in a street in Paris as France enforces mask-wearing in enclosed public spaces as part of efforts to curb a resurgence of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) across the country, July 20, 2020. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

PARIS (Reuters) - From Monday, shoppers entering the bakery in Paris where Kalil Gaci works are required by law to wear a mask, but his customers are taking the new rule in their stride.

“There’s no problem in wearing one, I’m completely for it,” said Elina Outh, a 22-year-old business student who called in to buy some of Gaci’s pastries.

“What’s happening makes sense and I think it should have happened a long time ago.”

Government edicts about wearing face coverings to curb the spread of COVID-19 have touched off fierce debate in the United States and elsewhere about civil liberties.

In France, most people accept them as a necessary tool to fight the epidemic.

A nationwide ruling requiring face coverings in shops, banks, covered markets or any other enclosed public space came into force on Monday. Anyone violating the rule is liable to pay a 135-euro ($155) fine.

Ministers accelerated the rule change because, even though the disease has abated nationwide, there have been localised flare-ups that sparked fears of a second wave. More than 30,000 deaths in France have been linked to COVID-19.

At the covered market at La Baule-Escoublac, a resort on France’s Atlantic coast, a sign was displayed reading: “Stop Coronavirus. The wearing of a mask is mandatory.”

A fishmonger at the market, who gave his name as Gregory, said shoppers had been complying. “Since lockdown, people in La Baule were used to almost always wearing a mask, so people are respecting the rules,” he said.

Reporting by Clotaire Achi in PARIS and Yann Tessier in La Baule-Escoublac; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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