Compulsory again soon in France?


COVID MASK. Within ten days, the mask has ceased to be mandatory indoors, including in businesses and schools, but still remains so in transport and institutions. However, faced with an increase in the number of cases, will the mask become mandatory again?

[Mis à jour le 24 mars 2022 à 14h13] Over the past week, the number of daily Covid cases has exceeded 100,000. This Wednesday, March 23, 145,560 positive cases were detected in France, a 50% increase from last Wednesday. Will easing measures in the face of Covid be short-lived?

On March 22, the World Health Organization considered the lifting of anti-covid measures in a number of European countries, in particular France, too “cruel”. Emmanuel Macron, invited to the set of M6 last night at 7:45 p.m., defended the measure: “We all used the same strategy, it makes sense. Can we still ask our children to wear a mask? Inside? No.” However, he added that he is ready to take responsibility if the situation becomes more serious: “We left the mask in the transport because we are packed, we even kept the medical passport in the hospital, we started a recall campaign. If something worse, the president that I am will take on the responsibility of protecting.”

If the wearing of a mask is no longer mandatory, it is still “recommended” by the Ministry of Health, in particular for positive people, at-risk contacts, people with symptoms and healthcare workers. For everyone else, keeping the mask on the nose is entirely possible, because despite the lifting of the restriction, vigilance and barrier gestures remain in place in conditions where there is a small epidemic rebound, probably due to the BA undervariant. 2, which became the majority in France. However, the government chose to opt for an early easing of the measures, in line with Gabriel Attal’s words when the Scientific Council’s report of 14 February was published: “We are true to our compass, which is not to impose one restriction more than one more day.”

The impact of mask abolition in Europe

But then what about other countries? To assess the real impact of ending mask wearing on daily pollution rates, we can look at the situation in countries that have lifted restrictions before us, as suggested by Ouest-France. In Denmark, for example, a month and a half after the end of the mandatory wearing of masks in the country, according to the news agency Reuters, there were an average of 12,363 new cases of coronavirus infection, compared with 23,4,000 cases in the past three weeks. sharp decline. Thus, the refusal to wear a mask was not accompanied by an increase in infection. The same applies to Spain, where the lifting of masks on February 10 did not lead to a resurgence of the epidemic, with an average of 14,406 new cases recorded daily in mid-March, representing stagnation. The number of deaths has also dropped significantly. But these favorable curves are not general. If we look, for example, at the situation in England, a country where the government decided to “live with the virus” by lifting restrictions even on transport, the number of infections increased dramatically in early March, and 40,000 cases were recorded from March 5 to March 3. March 11 is the equivalent of a 56% jump in one week (with a 17% increase in deaths). Similarly, the Netherlands, where mask-wearing was abolished at the end of February, saw an average of 65,584 new infections, representing an 80% increase in one week, the highest in Europe. Thus, the results of removing the wearing of the mask are contrasting. It remains to be hoped that France will follow a downward curve in terms of pollution.

  • Schools, recreation centers and leisure centers. Mandatory wearing of a mask will no longer apply to educational, educational and educational institutions; recreation centers; leisure centers without accommodation for adult teachers and leaders.
  • At enterprises
  • The shops. Retail outlets, malls and indoor markets will no longer be subject to the mandatory wearing of masks.
  • theaters
  • amusement parks
  • concert halls
  • festivals
  • Sport halls
  • sports speakers
  • game rooms
  • libraries
  • documentation centers
  • cinemas
  • bars
  • restaurants
  • trade fairs
  • Exhibitions
  • professional seminars, if they take place outside the company and gather more than 50 people;
  • lifts in ski resorts
  • access to tourist accommodations, such as campsites or holiday clubs, with a one-time check at the start of the stay.

While the mask can now be dropped in many places, it remains mandatory indoors in some areas of everyday life:

  • Transport. Trains, subways, buses, bus and ferry stations, and airports.
  • hospitals and medical institutions

The mask is no longer a mandatory outdoor accessory as of February 2nd and the first wave of lifting restrictions. It is no longer mandatory but is still recommended and the government is appealing to the logic of the French to reunite with mask wearing in very busy places.

The current fine in case of non-compliance with the mandatory wearing of a mask should remain at the level of 135 euros. “Failure to comply with this measure may entail, as in other places where the wearing of a mask is mandatory, in particular in transport, a class 4 fine”, determined by a fixed fine of 135 euros, clarified at the General Directorate of Health, as soon as this measure was introduced last year. In case of relapse, the amount can reach up to 1,500 euros.

Reaction to the removal of the obligation to wear a mask

As the presidential election approaches, the loosening of standards serves both medical and political purposes. It all depends on the time, the decision to cancel the wearing of a mask and suspend the validity of a medical passport is made at a meeting of the Health Protection Council on March 2, the day before the official registration of the candidacy of Emmanuel Macron in a letter to the French. , and the measures have been in place since March 14, a little less than a month before the first round of elections. A strategy that some resent, such as Les Patriotes’ Florian Filippo, who responds to a Twitter ad: “This just smells like an election campaign!” before adding: “If Macron passes in April, we’ll have the return of the vaccination pass in July.” !” or Jean-Frédéric Poisson, President of the Christian Democratic Party VIA, Voice of the People, who considers the statement “calculated according to the electoral calendar” in a March 3 tweet.

Among epidemiologists, the reaction is different. According to Antoine Flahaud, an epidemiologist and director of the Institute for Global Health in Geneva, the end of the vaccination period is consistent with the decline in infection rates: “Today, if the government decides that the validity of this passport has come to an end, we can understand that he decided to raise it.” he explains at the 20th minute (interview March 12). On the other hand, the end of the mask seems premature to him, especially in schools where the mask has been an effective means of protecting vulnerable children. “Children in the classrooms are especially poorly vaccinated, those with comorbidities are at high risk of infection and developing severe forms,” he recalls. Paris believes that wearing a mask is still necessary for the most vulnerable: “there is always a danger both for unvaccinated people and immunocompromised people who have been vaccinated,” he explained to France Info on March 13. However, for others, strategy or not, this announcement is very good news, especially for those who have advocated an end to mask-wearing, such as epidemiologist Alice Desbiol, who, in an interview with Doctissimo in early February, explained that mask-related offenses are all more often documented, affected “children’s mental health, which is deteriorating,” notes his colleague, emergency physician Gerald Kerzek, in a nutshell and on February 7.

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