The last major anti-Covid restriction disappears in France. Travelers no longer have to wear the mask in transport from Monday, a statement from the government in full decline in the epidemic, though it is unlikely to be over.
“From Monday 16 May, it is no longer mandatory to wear a mask in all public transport”, Mr Véran declared at the end of the Council of Ministers. Is particularly concerned about the subway, bus, train, plane and taxis, the ministry’s cabinet specified to AFP.
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Wearing a mask is “recommended”, but no longer mandatory
Although the Minister insists that it is still “recommended” to wear a mask, the reality will probably be similar to supermarkets or cinemas where such relief is already in place: the vast majority of faces will be revealed again.
This will therefore be the end of the last major marker of the Covid-19 epidemic in the public space, a decision that confirms the fact that the disease has become a minor health and political concern.
“The situation is improving”summed up Olivier Véran, while contaminations and hospitalizations for more than a month have finally fallen after a very long winter wave.
This in itself has proven to be manageable by hospitals due to the good protection of the population by vaccination, as well as the relatively low danger of the Omicron variant, which emerged in late 2021.
In addition to health considerations, Covid had moved to the background of concerns, and the health situation was very little mentioned during the presidential campaign in which Emmanuel Macron was re-elected.
In this context, the government had already taken several symbolic measures in recent months, in particular by putting an end to the use of masks, except in transport, in March, and to the vaccination card, which required vaccination against Covid in order to gain access to many places such as restaurants and cinemas.
The pandemic is “not over”
With the announced end of the mask in transport, France, like several of its neighbors, will have almost regained its life before the pandemic, more than two years after its arrival in Europe.
As such, some researchers warn against an excessive sense of security and warn that the epidemic is under control, but probably not over, especially in light of the threat of a new variant.
In France, “the pandemic is clearly not over, although we can hope that, given the level of immunity in the population (…), we can move on to a more transitional phase”stressed last week Sylvie van der Werf, virologist at the Pasteur Institute during a press briefing from the National Agency for Research on AIDS and Viral Hepatitis (ANRS).
The government shows the same line. The Minister of Health also states this “the pandemic is not over”and some restrictions will also be maintained.
A “health passport” – separate from the vaccination card because it also works in the event of a recent negative test – will continue to be required to gain access to healthcare institutions in a broad sense (hospitals, nursing homes, etc.). The measure lasts at least until summer, according to Olivier Véran.
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Isolation is maintained in case of a positive test
In addition, an isolation of at least one week after a positive test will always be imposed.
At the hospital level, non-vaccinated carers who are currently unable to perform their activity will not be reinstated immediately, but the government says it continues to ask the question.
“We will have to re-evaluate ourselves regularly,” the minister said, expressing his intention to seek the opinion of the High Health Authority (HAS) on the subject soon.
Finally, the Minister raised the possibility of a new vaccination booster campaign in the autumn, but refrained from giving any details and stressed that everything would depend on the emergence of new varieties and their profile more or less dangerous or resistant to existing vaccines.
In a press release forwarded by AFP, the European Aviation Safety Agency also announced the end of the mask at EU airports and aircraft from Monday 19 May 2022.
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