Lyon and Rouen declare face masks compulsory in outdoor areas

Lyon and Rouen became the latest of nine French cities to make masks mandatory outside in a bid to curb the rising Covid-19 spread across France.

Lyon and Rouen declare face masks compulsory in outdoor areas
People in Lyon have been wearing face masks outside in some streets for a while, but now the rule has been extended to the entire city. Photo: AFP

A rule imposing mandatory masks outside entered into effect in Lyon on September 1st and will enter into effect in Rouen on September 2nd.

The two cities were the last in line to render more strict their rules on mask-wearing, following in the footsteps of seven other cities (Paris, Nice, Marseille, Orléans, Bordeaux, Toulouse and Strasbourg).

MAP: French towns and cities where masks are compulsory 

In Lyon local authorities had already made masks mandatory in certain parts of the city, a rule that was extended to the entire city of Lyon and Villeurbanne, announced the préfecture (the senior local authority) of the Rhône département on Monday evening.

Joggers and cyclists were exempt from the rule along with children younger than 11.


In the rest of the Rhône département masks must be worn everywhere outside that is within 50 metres from nurseries, primary schools, middle schools, high schools and higher education establishments, as well as entrances and exits of train stations, metro stations, tram and bus stops.

In Rouen, capital of the Normandy region and home to some 650,000 people, masks will be mandatory as of Wednesday morning in all outdoor public spaces from 7am until 2am.

Here too, children of less than 11 years old were exempt from the rule, along with joggers and cyclists.


Rising coronavirus spread

Both Lyon and Rouen have seen a rise in the number of new coronavirus cases identified in their areas over the past weeks.

Lyon’s Rhône département was bumped up to the highest alert level and became one of France’s 21 “red zones” after having passed the threshold of 50 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

READ MORE: Where are France's 21 coronavirus 'red zones'?

Lyon and Villeurbanne now confirmed 93 and 137 cases each per 100,000 inhabitants, the regional health agency said on Monday. One month ago the numbers were 10 per 100,000 in Lyon and 16 per 100,000 in Villeurbanne.

The rate of positive Covid-19 tests had surpassed the French average of 4.2 percent, reaching 6.4 percent in Lyon and more than 10 percent in Villeurbanne.

“The situation is deteriorating and we are facing a collective challenge. We protect ourselves individually, but we above all have to protect others,” said Grégory Doucet, Mayor of Lyon, during a press conference on Monday.

Rouen also exceeded the threshold of 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and its positive test rate of 5.70 percent has climbed above the French average of 4.2 percent.

Several smaller towns and cities in the region around Rouen have taken measures to impose masks in certain parts of their outdoor spaces to reduce spread of the virus.

France has not made any national rules on mask-wearing outdoors, but masks are mandatory inside public spaces and on public transport across the country.

Prime Minister Jean Castex previously urged local authorities to “extend as far as possible” the rules on wearing masks outside in order to curb the spread. 


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Kinder pulls 3,000 tonnes of products after salmonella cases

Children in nine European countries, including 81 in France, were affected

Kinder pulls 3,000 tonnes of products after salmonella cases

More than 3,000 tonnes of Kinder products have been withdrawn from the market over salmonella fears leaving a dent of tens of millions of euros, a company official has told France’s Le Parisien.

Nicolas Neykov, the head of Ferrero France, said the contamination came “from a filter located in a vat for dairy butter”, at a factory in Arlon in Belgium.

He said the contamination could have been caused by humans or raw materials.

Chocolate products made at the factory in Arlon, southeastern Belgium, were found to contain salmonella, resulting in 150 cases in nine European countries.

Eighty-one of these were in France, mainly affecting children under 10 years old.

The factory’s closure and the health concerns were blows to its owner, Italian confectionery giant Ferrero, coming at the height of the Easter holiday season when its Kinder chocolates are sought-after supermarket buys.

“This crisis is heartbreaking. It’s the biggest removal of products in the last 20 years,” Neykov said.

But the company hoped to be able to start up the factory again, with 50 percent of health and safety inspections to be carried out by an approved “external laboratory” in the future, instead of the previous system of only internal reviews.

“We have asked for a reopening from June 13 to relaunch production as soon as possible,” he added.