Romanian health authorities have blamed a surge in coronavirus cases on people not wearing masks. Image by AP PHOTO

virus diseases

More countries make face masks mandatory

2020-07-25 04:02:09

New rules on wearing masks in England have came into effect, with people entering shops, banks and supermarkets now required to wear face coverings, while Romania reported a record high for daily infections and France announced mandatory testing for arrivals from 16 countries.

People in England can be fined as much as 100 pounds ($A180) by police if they refuse.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Friday that as of August 1, travellers entering France from 16 countries where the viral circulation is strong – including the United States – must undergo compulsory tests on arrival at French airports or ports unless they can present a negative test less than 72 hours old from their countries of departure.

Those testing positive on arrival must isolate for 14 days.

Health authorities say cases on the French mainland have surged 66 per cent in the past three weeks and 26 per cent in the last week alone.

Concerns had already prompted the government to make mask-wearing mandatory in all indoor public spaces this week.

In Belgium, health authorities said a three-year old girl has died after testing positive for COVID-19 as new infections surged 89 per cent from the previous week.

Belgian authorities have bolstered restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus, including making masks mandatory in crowded outdoor public spaces.

Romania set an all-time high for daily new infections on Friday and authorities blamed the surge on a failure to wear masks, including in indoor public places or on mass transit.

In Italy, most new cases have occurred in northern Italy, where the outbreak in Europe began, but southern regions have lately been reporting clusters of infections.

Many recent cases have been traced to people returning from abroad, most of them foreign workers.

Other clusters were among migrants rescued at sea and tourists.

Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza on Friday ordered everyone entering Italy who had been in either Romania or Bulgaria during the last 14 days to self-quarantine.

Masks must be worn in Italian shops, banks, on public transport and outdoors where it’s impossible to keep a safe distance apart.

Amid fears in Spain that poor living conditions for seasonal agricultural workers are creating coronavirus hotspots, the Spanish farm minister said on Friday authorities are pressing employers to provide decent accommodations and transport for the workers.

The Health Ministry reported 971 new daily infections, the biggest daily increase since Spain’s lockdown ended.

German authorities plan to set up testing stations at airports to encourage people arriving from high-risk countries to get tested for the coronavirus.

They also will allow people arriving from other places to get tested for free within three days – though not at airports.

Russia, which had halted all international flights and shut down its borders in late March to stem the outbreak, is resuming international flights starting on August 1 with just three countries – Britain, Turkey and Tanzania – while the government works to expand the list.