Mayors in northern France close beaches again after ‘unacceptable’ behaviour

Three towns in France's northwest will close their beaches just days after reopening following two months of coronavirus lockdown, saying too many visitors were snubbing social distancing rules.

Officials said they were asked by residents to close beaches on the eve of a public holiday on Thursday that risks drawing too many visitors to the Brittany region's Atlantic shoreline.

Hundreds of French beaches reopened last weekend to runners, swimmers and anglers as the country eased restrictions, but most banned sunbathing or picnics as part of social distancing measures seeking to prevent a second infection wave.

READ ALSO How to enjoy the holiday rules within the rules of France's lockdown phase 1

The government credits the lockdown with saving tens of thousands of lives but the economy has suffered – particularly the tourism industry, which accounts for roughly eight percent of France's economic output.

The prefecture of Morbihan said beaches at Damgan, Billiers and Erdeven would be shut from Wednesday evening because of “unacceptable behaviour” last weekend.

Beachgoers had failed to keep a safe distance from one another and gathered in “several static groups”, the officials said.

Elsewhere in Brittany, authorities have tested over 1,000 employees at an abattoir in Cotes d'Armor, fearing a localised outbreak after one worker was admitted to intensive care with a coronavirus infection.

So far, 69 have tested positive and are quarantining at home.

MAP: 25 new coronavirus clusters found in France

The French government is weighing, meanwhile, whether to hold a postponed second round of local elections in June.   

Its Scientific Council has given the green light, provided adequate protective measures are put in place.

The first round was held on March 15th, just hours after the government ordered the shutdown of all bars and restaurants and two days before a nationwide lockdown was imposed.

Turnout for the first round was the lowest ever for municipal elections in France, and several mayors have urged the government to hold off on fresh voting until at least September.

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France’s monkeypox count rises to 277 as first woman contracts virus

France has detected 277 cases of monkeypox, health authorities said Tuesday, June 21st, including the first case in the country of a woman contracting the virus.

France's monkeypox count rises to 277 as first woman contracts virus

The case numbers have risen steeply since the last official figure of 183 cases five days earlier. But there have been no deaths in France attributed to monkeypox.

The normal initial symptoms of monkeypox include a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a blistery chickenpox-like rash.

Until recently, the viral disease had generally been confined to Western and Central Africa but is now present in several continents, particularly Europe.

Among the latest cases recorded in France, “a first female case has been confirmed, the mode of transmission of which is currently being investigated, and all the others are men,” the French national public health agency said in a statement.

So far, the recent outbreak of monkeypox, which is currently affecting some 40 countries, has mainly affected men who have engaged in gay sex.

The World Health Organization is due to hold an emergency meeting on Thursday to determine whether to classify the global monkeypox outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern.

The virus usually clears up after two or three weeks.

Most of the cases identified in France have been found in Paris and its suburbs, though smaller outbreaks have been seen in several regions throughout the country, including Normandy in the north and the Cote d’Azur in the south.

The first monkeypox case in France was discovered on May 20, the same day the virus was detected in neighbouring Germany.