Paris-French people went to the polls wearing face masks Sunday for the final round of municipal elections expected to yield a low voter turnout and a rebuke for the party of President Emmanuel Macron.

The opening round was held amid high contagion anxiety on March 15 just as the COVID-19 epidemic was gaining deadly momentum, but the second phase, scheduled for March 22, was put off after France went into lockdown.

Despite a record abstention rate of 55 percent, the first round yielded a decisive outcome in some 85 percent, or 30,000, French communes.

This means political power remains up for grabs Sunday in about 5,000 undecided municipal councils including the key centres of Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, and Strasbourg.

Some 16.5 million people are registered to cast a ballot, with those turning out required to wear a face mask and urged to bring their own pens to minimise coronavirus contagion risk.

Analysts expect the election will confirm that Macron’s centrist Republic on the Move (LREM) party -- founded by the president ahead of his 2017 election win -- has failed to gain a strong foothold at local level.

The party made lacklustre showings in March -- notably in Paris where Macron’s candidate, former health minister Agnes Buzyn, came third. Socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo is forecast to hold on to the capital in Sunday’s vote.

With a death toll approaching 30,000, France has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic.