French authorities have announced on Saturday that children from the age of six years and above will have to wear masks in indoor public places due to the surge in Omicron variant cases.
The highly contagious Omicron variant crossed past two lakh cases in France for the fourth consecutive day.
By lowering the age of children obligated to wear masks from 11 to six, the government is hoping to avoid shutting down schools after the holiday break.
Classes will resume from Monday and young children will have to wear masks in public transport, in sports complexes and places of worship.
The mask mandate extends to outdoor spaces in cities such as Paris and Lyon that have recently re-introduced mask-wearing outside.
On the first day of the new year, France registered 2,19,126 new COVID-19 infections, down only slightly from the daily record of 2,32,200 noted on the last day of 2021.
The French government is betting that the fifth wave of the pandemic, driven by the fast-spreading Omicron variant, can be tamed without returning to economically damaging lockdowns or curfews, and without hospitals collapsing under the growing numbers of gravely sick.
So far, 123,000 people have lost their lives due to COVID-19 in France.
(With inputs from Agencies)