Cinemas, museums, sports establishments: the wearing of a mask will no longer be compulsory for the public in places where entry is subject to the health pass, according to a government decision, however contested by scientists.
“Where there is the” anti-Covid-19 health pass, people “will be able to remove the mask”, “except against the orders of the prefects in the departments depending on the epidemic situation,” the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, before the start of the examination of the law in Parliament during the day.
According to him, the mask is no longer imposed because the health pass implies “that we are sure that all the people who return are completely vaccinated or have a very recent test which is negative”.
“The wearing of a mask can however be made compulsory by the prefect of the department when the local circumstances justify it, as well as by the operator or the organizer”, qualifies however the decree published Tuesday to formalize this measure.
This decree published in the Official Journal also lowers the tonnage to 50 people (against 1,000 previously) in places subject to the health pass. The latter will be payable in places of culture (cinemas, museums, theaters etc.) from Wednesday.
Unlike the public who access it, employees who work in places subject to the health pass will have to keep the mask for the moment, said the Ministry of Labor.
“Wearing a mask remains the rule in business. As the pass is compulsory from August 30 for employees (places subject to the pass), it is not planned for the moment to remove it for these employees”, according to the ministry.
– “Bad idea” –
The end of the mask requirement for the public in these places “will improve the daily life of the French little by little,” commented Mr. Véran.
Conversely, the highly respected epidemiologist Dominique Costagliola says she learned of this measure “with amazement”.
“It’s a bad idea,” she said on France Inter. “We should have belt and suspenders to try to fight this epidemic, and not remove certain measures when we put others in place.”
“Vaccination does not prevent all infections (…). We must maintain barrier gestures”, also assured on Twitter Rémi Salomon, president of the medical commission of the Hospitals of Paris.
“This decision prohibits access to these places to 250,000 severely immunocompromised people, holders of the health pass, vaccinated three times, but at very high risk and poorly or not protected by vaccination, who can only rely on the masks worn by all “, for its part protested Renaloo, association of dialysis and kidney transplant recipients.
Especially since the discovery of a cluster of 81 positive cases after three techno evenings organized in mid-July in a Bordeaux club has cast doubt on the effectiveness of health pass controls.
And under the effect of the Delta variant, which is more contagious, the epidemic is returning to France, to such an extent that the executive is now talking about a fourth wave.
At the national level, the daily average of new cases over the last 7 days is over 8,000, against only 1,850 at the end of June.
– Contact cases –
The government fears that this increase, which mainly affects young people for the moment, will eventually extend to the elderly or frail unvaccinated and lead to an increase in hospitalizations.
“Difficult times await our country,” Prime Minister Jean Castex said during a meeting with LREM deputies, according to comments reported by a participant.
It is precisely this degradation that led President Emmanuel Macron to announce a turn of the screw on July 12 to accelerate vaccination: compulsory vaccine for caregivers and extension of the health pass (proving the complete vaccination, a recent negative test or the immunization) at cafes, restaurants or trains from the beginning of August.
The government needs to figure out how to apply this to shopping centers. He plans to limit the obligation of the health pass to those over 20,000 m2, while guaranteeing access to basic necessities (including food), as demanded by the Council of State on Monday.
All these measures must be reflected in the law, which could be adopted at the end of the week.
They “will save lives,” insisted Mr. Véran, insisting again on the importance of vaccination, significantly accelerated by the announcements of Mr. Macron.
“We had set a target of 40 million first-time vaccinated at the end of August. I think we will reach 40 million before the end of July”, welcomed the minister.
Finally, Mr. Véran announced another relaxation for fully vaccinated people: they will no longer be considered as a contact case, unless they live under the same roof as an infected person.