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France requires face masks but still bans Islamic face coverings

France is now mandating masks for all citizens in certain public areas during the coronavirus pandemic. But that doesn’t change the country’s controversial ban on Islamic face coverings.

The French government confirmed that its years-long ban on wearing burqas, niqabs and other full-face coverings in public will remain in place, even as face masks become mandatory on Monday. While French citizens nationwide will be covering their faces, women who do so with Islamic garb are still subject to punishment.

“Can the Islamophobia be any more transparent?” Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth said on Twitter. “The French government mandates masks but still bans the burqua.”

A woman wearing a "Niqab" veil participa
A woman wearing a “Niqab” veil participa

In this February 2010 photo, a woman wearing a niqab veil participates in a protest in Tours, central France, after a panel of French lawmakers recommended a ban on face-covering veils in all schools, hospitals, public

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Coronavirus: latest global developments

Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis.

– At least 292,000 dead –

At least 292,000 coronavirus deaths have been recorded since the epidemic surfaced in China late last year, according to an AFP tally at 1300 GMT on Wednesday based on official sources.

There have been more than 4,272,880 officially recorded cases around the world.

The United States has recorded most deaths at 82,389. It is followed by Britain (33,186), Italy (30,911), Spain (27,104) and France (26,991).

Lesotho, the last African country to have been unaffected, announces it has detected its first case.

– Europe’s summer holidays –

Desperate to save millions of tourism jobs, the European Union sets out plans for a phased restart of travel this summer, with EU border controls eventually lifted and measures to minimise the risks of infection, like wearing facemasks on shared transport.

– Russia: more than 10,000 new cases –

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‘Stay away’ – German fans warned ahead of Bundesliga restart

Berlin (AFP) – The Bundesliga returns on Saturday in empty stadiums, but German fans are being warned to stay away and authorities have warned matches could be halted if too many supporters gather outside the grounds.

German football will be blazing a trail among Europe’s top leagues by resuming two months after it was halted by the spread of coronavirus, but its strategy is fraught with risks.

In a football-mad country which boasts the highest average attendances in the world, will supporters banished from stadiums be able to stay away?

In Saxony, where third-placed RB Leipzig will host mid-table Freiburg on Saturday afternoon, the state’s Interior Minister Roland Woeller has issued a clear threat.

“Fans must not use matches behind closed doors as an excuse to gather in front of the stadiums or elsewhere,” he said.

“This could lead to matches being stopped.”

His concerns are justified.

Several hundred fans

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Arts center in Gold Rush town opens, but coronavirus forces closure two days later. What now?

Interior view of the $6.3-million Center for the Arts in Grass Valley. Before the center's multimillion-dollar renovation, the nearest arts venue was a 60-mile drive to Sacramento. <span class="copyright">(Melissa Clark)</span>
Interior view of the $6.3-million Center for the Arts in Grass Valley. Before the center’s multimillion-dollar renovation, the nearest arts venue was a 60-mile drive to Sacramento. (Melissa Clark)

In tiny, ravaged Grass Valley, best known as the site of the historic Empire gold mine, the last two years were marked by wildfires that left the town scarred, and dotted by blackouts that closed businesses for 22 days.

Locals worried for the future. But the Gold Rush community had started to feel hopeful while preparing for the planned March 12 soft opening of the town’s $6.3-million Center for the Arts, housed in an Art Deco complex complete with a modern art gallery, theater, commercial kitchen and a 492-seat auditorium.

Culture boosters had booked Arlo Guthrie and Amy Grant as part of the first season, and were working to uplift residents in the devastated area outside Sacramento, after so many

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