COVID: Paris court rules government failed to stockpile face masks | Economic news

PARIS (AP) — A Paris court ruled on Tuesday that the French government failed to supply enough surgical masks at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and prevented the spread of the virus.

The decision came as the number of recorded infections with coronavirus variants is rising sharply. It was not immediately clear whether the decision would result in any specific penalties for the government.

Authorities across France are considering new measures, including an indoor mask mandate in some cities, to curb the spread of the virus but keep the economy open during the summer tourist season.

“The government is guilty of failing to ensure a sufficient supply of masks to combat a pandemic linked to a highly pathogenic respiratory agent,” the court said.

The Paris administrative court also ruled that the government was wrong in suggesting at the start of the COVID-19 crisis that masks did not protect people from contracting the virus.

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But the court said none of the government’s wrongdoings led to specific cases of infection with the virus.

The French government is unlikely to introduce new regulations until a new government coalition is formed following French legislative elections earlier this month. The results shifted President Emmanuel Macron’s balance of power away from the center as voters opted for far-right and far-left parties. A new government is expected early next month.

France lifted most COVID-19 restrictions in March, including abolishing the need to wear face masks in most settings and allowing unvaccinated people to return to restaurants, sports arenas and other venues. At the end of May, wearing a mask was recommended on public transport in certain cities, but not compulsory.

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