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Coronavirus digest: France deploys riot police to enforce mask-wearing

France has deployed riot police to enforce mask-wearing as the country sees its biggest spike in cases since May. The Japanese economy contracted at a rate of 27.8% in the April-June quarter. Catch up on the latest.

Europe

France has deployed 130 riot police to the Marseille region to enforce mask requirements, as more towns introduced compulsory mask-wearing. From Monday, people buying and selling goods at outdoor farmers' markets in the region are also required to cover their faces in a bid to reduce the infection risk.

France has registered its highest one-day increase in COVID-19 cases since May. Labor Minister Elisabeth Borne said in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper that the government wants to expand mask use, especially in workplaces. ''We must avoid a new lockdown at any cost,'' she said.

But France still plans to reopen schools nationwide in two weeks. The country's infection count has rebounded in recent weeks, blamed in part on people traveling across the country for weddings, family gatherings or annual summer vacations with friends.

Italy announced it would close discos and clubs from Monday and make it compulsory to wear a mask outdoors in some areas at night, especially around pubs and bars.

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Spain has imposed new restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus, which include the closure of discos and a partial ban on smoking outdoors. Restaurants and bars will be required to close by 1:00 a.m., with no new guests allowed in from midnight.

The new changes have been prescribed for all regions. The small, northern wine-growing region of La Rioja and the southeastern region of Murcia are the first to have enforced the measures this weekend.

Under the guidelines, announced by Spain's Health Minister Salvador Illa, visits to retirement homes will be limited, while smoking outdoors in public places is banned when a distance of two meters cannot be maintained.

The German state of Bavaria said it had traced most of the people returning from abroad who tested positive for COVID-19, but who had not been notified. Authorities said in a statement that they had found 903 of the 949 people who tested positive out of a total of 44,000 travelers returning to the country.

The tests had been carried out up to two weeks ago, but problems with data entry meant that the travelers faced a long wait for their test results. Germany has seen an alarming rise in coronavirus in recent weeks, with many fearing the country has already entered a second wave.

Meanwhile, Brandenburg's Education Ministry has suspended an elementary school principal for refusing to wear a mask. The state instituted a mask requirement for inside schools, except classrooms, that came into force on Monday.

The principal had written to parents that he did not feel bound by this legal requirement, according to the ministry, which said "he clearly was acting unlawfully."

Read more: Germany looks abroad for nurses, caregivers

Asia

Japan's economy shrank a historic 7.8% in the April-June quarter, the worst contraction in the nation's modern history, as the coronavirus deepens economic woes. At an annualized rate, the economy contracted 27.8%, the biggest fall since 1980, when comparable data became available.

It was the third straight quarter of contraction for the world's third-largest economy. The coronavirus pandemic has hit business and consumer spending. Private consumption, which accounts for more than half of Japan's economy, fell 8.2% for the quarter.

While the economy has re-opened after the government lifted state of emergency measures in late May, a worrying resurgence in infections cloud the outlook for business and household spending.

Read more: How Indian police contained coronavirus in Mumbai

New Zealand has delayed its upcoming general election by one month due to the renewed virus outbreak in the country. The election was originally supposed to take place on September 19 but will now be held on October 17.

"This decision gives all parties time over the next nine weeks to campaign and the Electoral Commission enough time to ensure an election can go ahead," said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

New Zealand is currently battling a return of COVID-19 which last week forced the country's largest city Auckland into lockdown and ended 102 days without new infections.

South Korea counted its fourth straight day of triple-digit increases in new coronavirus cases Monday as the government urged people to stay home and curb travel.

The government had drawn up a special holiday on Monday with hopes of spurring domestic consumption. But as infections in the capital region increase, Health Minister Park Neung-hoo urged people to stay home and for residents in Seoul and nearby Gyeonggi province to avoid visiting other parts of the country for two weeks.

Read more: Coronavirus trend: The pandemic is far from over

Middle East

Firms from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel signed an agreement to jointly develop research and studies on the novel coronavirus. The move follows the normalization of the two countries' political relations.

The UAE's APEX National Investment and Israel's TeraGroup signed the "strategic commercial agreement" in Abu Dhabi. The two companies hope to develop a rapid test for coronavirus, among other joint ventures.

Read more: Coronavirus digest: Germany warns against 'party holidays' after Spain travel warning

ed,jcg/sri (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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