France: Penalties Could Be Imposed for Not Wearing a Mask During Transport

Anyone who does not wear a mask on public transport will be punished as of 11 May, the date on which the gradual deconfinement of public transport in France will begin, said Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, the French Secretary of State for Transport, on Wednesday.

In public transport, it will be obligatory to wear a protective mask to prevent the spread of the new Coronavirus, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced on Tuesday during the presentation of the national deconfinement strategy before the French National Assembly.

” If the use of the mask is mandatory, there will be monitoring and therefore punishment,” said the Secretary of State on Europe 1, stressing however that a period of “tolerance” will take place, especially during the first day.

“We are going to be lenient on 11 May, but on 12 May everyone will have to be equipped with a mask,” because it is the country’s “health security” that is at risk, he said.

He said that the authorities are working on the “right mechanism” to monitor and punish violators, noting that the government plans to empower security services to stop passengers who refuse to wear masks.

The government official added that, in addition to the security officers of transport operators, particularly the RATP, “law enforcement officers may be called in”.

Besides penalties, public transport will also be asked to ensure that physical distancing is organised, the government official explained.

” We will monitor the markings on the ground, the occupation of one seat out of two (…) we are going to make a work of adaptation to the local realities”, specified the secretary of State.

The Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, announced on Tuesday the national strategy on how to deconfine France as of 11 May. The plan was approved by a large majority of deputies. It focuses on six themes relating to health, the return to school, the return to work, the reopening of shops, public transport and events.

The main measures indicated by Edouard Philippe include the “very gradual” resumption of pre-schools and primary schools from 11 May, the opening of middle schools and schools “from 18 May” and the departments least affected, the reduction of inter-regional and inter-departmental travel as much as possible and the limitation of gatherings on the public highway or in private places to 10 people.

The Prime Minister also said that the 2019-2020 professional sports season would come to an end and that all shops and markets, except for café-restaurants, would be open.

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