Riot police will be patrolling Marseille, France, to enforce draconian mask laws imposed on residents and visitors to the seaside city, according to officials.
A deployment of 130 officers from the Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité (CRS), a reserve branch of the French National Police that specializes in crowd and riot control, will join local police in cracking down on those who flout face covering mandates.
Mask rules have been expanded in France's second largest city, with authorities blaming a supposed 'spike in cases' for stricter policies, which include mandatory face coverings while outdoors at farmer's markets, in select neighborhoods, and in high-traffic pedestrian areas.
"At Marseille, we're reinforcing the controls on the wearing of masks," government spokesman Gabriel Attal told France 3.
"But I say it: we'll never be able to put a policeman behind every Frenchman. It's a question of civic-mindedness and responsibility: we should fear the fine less than the virus."
À #Marseille, nous renforçons les moyens de contrôle sur le port du masque. Mais je le dis : on ne pourra jamais mettre un policier derrière chaque français. C’est un enjeu de civisme et de responsabilité : il faudrait moins craindre l’amende que le virus. @France3Provence pic.twitter.com/d37wbtuxHK— Gabriel Attal (@GabrielAttal) August 17, 2020
The increased show of force comes amid rising opposition among Europeans who believe governments are using the specter of the virus to crush civil liberties.
Protests against coronavirus tyranny have drawn large crowds in Spain, Belgium, and the U.K.
A recent demonstration in Berlin drew tens or hundreds of thousands of participants, depending on whose estimates are to be believed.
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