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French universities to reopen, face masks ‘recommended’

french universities
A customer wearing a face mask looks at CDs in a multimedia store on July 20, 2020, in Paris, on the first day of compulsory mask-wearing in enclosed public spaces in France in a bid to prevent a second wave of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) infections. - As officials noted signs of an uptick in virus circulation, people in France will risk a fine of 135 euros (154 USD) starting on July 20 for failure to comply with a new decree to wear a mask in public places indoors, the government announced. Source: Alain Jocard/AFP

French universities will reopen in September after nearly six months but students will be encouraged to wear face masks, the ministry of higher education announced Thursday.

Universities in France closed on March 16 as part of the new coronavirus restrictions. Schools gradually reopened on May 11 but the country’s 74 universities have remained shuttered.

“The wearing of masks in classrooms is highly recommended,” the ministry said, asking universities and leading higher education institutions “to let in a greater number of students while respecting health regulations.”

french universities

A member of French Civic service, distributes hand sanitiser as part of COVID-19 measures at the Bassin de la Villette on the opening day of the 19th edition of the “Paris-Plages” (Paris Beaches) summer event on July 18, 2020, in Paris. Source: Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP

“We are working in tandem with these establishments to put in place measures … to protect teachers, personnel and students from the virus,” Higher Education Minister Frederique Vidal said.

She said social distancing would be observed with a metre maintained between each student in classrooms. Facemasks will be mandatory in libraries.

french universities

People sit on a deckchairs at the Bassin de la Villette on the opening day of the 19th edition of the “Paris-Plages” (Paris Beaches) summer event on July 18, 2020, in Paris. Source: Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP

Closed spaces will be aired twice a day and pedestrian traffic will be regulated in busy areas, it said.

There has been a rise in COVID-19 cases in France in recent weeks but the current daily numbers of deaths and hospitalisations are far lower than they were earlier.

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