News and Commentary

France Deploying Riot Police To Enforce Mask Regulations

Towns around France started requiring masks outdoors on Monday
Buildings In Marseille
Nicolas Daumas / EyeEm / Getty Images

The French government plans to send riot police into the Marseille region to help enforce mask regulations in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal announced on Monday that 130 police officers will be sent into the region, west of Nice on the Balearic Sea. The region has recently expanded mask rules to include all farmers’ markets and outdoor areas.

“France has seen scattered incidents of violence by people refusing to wear masks. Paris expanded its mask requirements Saturday, and other towns around France started requiring masks outdoors on Monday,” The Associated Press reported on Monday.

Infections have been spiking in France, with 3,015 new cases Sunday. There have been 255,908 confirmed cases in the country, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, and more than 30,000 people have died with the virus in France, one of the highest death tolls in the world, the AP said.

Other countries are also having difficulty enforcing mask laws and lockdowns. Police in Melbourne, Australia, reportedly fired at a man who was breaching strict curfew restrictions over the weekend.

“Officers asked him to stop so they could question why he was out after curfew,” Lana Murphy, a reporter with 9News, wrote on Twitter.

“The Public Order Response Team approached the 64-year-old driver after he pulled into a service station at the Point Cook Road exit of the Princess Highway, Altona Meadows, just after 1.20 a.m. The driver allegedly ignored police directions to turn off his vehicle, and instead drove at officers,” reported in a piece, headlined “Police fire gunshots after man caught ‘breaching curfew.'”

“An approaching police officer discharged his firearm while taking evasive action,” Victoria police said in a statement.

Clashes between residents and police have been increasing since officials enacted a strict lockdown on citizens. “Melbourne police ‘assaulted and baited’ over lockdown rules,” the BBC wrote earlier this month.

Police said this trend included so-called “sovereign citizens” – who espouse an anti-government ideology – confronting officers. In one case a woman repeatedly smashed a policewoman’s head into the ground. Authorities have increased fines for repeated rule breaches as Melbourne endures a deadly virus second wave.

Under the new lockdown rules that run until Sept. 13, residents must stay within a 3-mile radius of home; only one person from a household is allowed to shop per day; no more than one hour of exercise per day and groups are limited to two; recreational activity is banned; a nightly curfew runs from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m.

Restaurants and cafes will be closed throughout the lockdown, but liquor stores remain open for pick ups. Plus, no resident can leave the city, and no outsiders can enter Melbourne “unless it’s for work or study, medical care and caregiving, shopping for food or supplies,” according to The Guardian.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s biggest city went into full lockdown last week after four people tested positive for COVID-19. The island country had gone 102 days with no new cases, but Auckland announced that a family of four had contracted the virus.

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