France Will Use Cameras to Enforce Mask Wearing, Distancing, as Lockdown Lifts

paris mounted police
BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images

As France begins to ease Wuhan coronavirus lockdown restrictions, at least one French city is set to use CCTV monitoring software to track members of the public and make sure they are obeying mask and social distancing rules.

The city of Cannes, famous for its international film festival, has begun working with tech company Datakalab to test software that will monitor locals in outdoor environments such as markets and on public transportation, but the firm insists it does not violate existing privacy legislation.

Both Datakalab and Cannes Mayor David Lisnard insisted that the software used would not be facial recognition software with Lisnard stating, “This technology doesn’t identify people but just gives us mathematical analysis to meet people’s needs,” the BBC reports. The software is intended to measure the distance between people in public spaces and to assess whether they are wearing masks.

On Monday, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced that the government of President Emmanuel Macron would be easing some lockdown measures later this month including the opening of kindergarten and primary schools on May 11th.

We’re at a decisive moment, we cannot remain in confinement,” Philippe told French senators and added, “Economic life must resume imperatively and quickly.”

Many municipal leaders, including leftist Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, criticised the move to open schools on the 11th claiming that they needed more time to implement the measures and organise the reopening.

“Preparations for the end of the lockdown are being imposed at a forced march, even though we still lack the necessary information,” a letter signed by 300 Paris area mayors said.

Prime minister Philippe also addressed several other issues in his speech to the senate including allegations that retailers were concealing stocks of masks saying, “There were never any hidden stocks: Huge orders were placed, and it takes a certain amount of time before they can be made available.”

While France has seen a surge in cases following the lockdown in Mid-March, the number of new cases and deaths has greatly declined in the last several weeks with the country seeing the lowest number of new coronavirus deaths since late March.

While France has largely remained under tight lockdown, areas of the country have seen rioting and anti-police violence over the last several weeks.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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