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