French doctor: People should wear mask ‘all the time’

A high-profile emergency doctor in France has said that people should wear masks “all the time” when in public, even “when outdoors”, and has urged the government to take a stronger stance on face coverings.

27 July 2020
People wearing face masks in the street. Top doctor: People in France should wear mask ‘all the time’Dr Pelloux said that people in France should wear a mask "all the time" to help stop the spread of the coronavirus
By Connexion journalist

Dr Patrick Pelloux, the president of emergency doctor group l’Association des Médecins Urgentistes, has been calling on the government to be less “timid” on the subject of masks since March.

Now, he has said: “We must tell people: Wear a mask all the time, even in the street [outdoors]. We are going to need to make a decision to tell people to wear a mask all the time, to wash their hands with soap and alcohol sanitiser gel every hour, and to maintain physical distancing.”

He explained that “with these weapons [against the virus], we will surely be able to avoid the epidemic returning in France”, in an interview with news service FranceInfo on Saturday July 25.

He said: “We are not at the beginning of the virus. Some are comparing the current numbers to March, but we are not talking about the same thing. In March, we were very timid about making masks obligatory, remember. Now, it’s different. Now, we have made masks mandatory everywhere.”

Since July 20, it has been mandatory to wear a mask in most public enclosed spaces in France, and in areas open to the public in which physical distancing is not possible. Non-compliance can be punished with a fine of up to €135.

Some areas have taken out local decrees to make masks mandatory outside too, especially in touristic places and in open-air, crowded markets.

Read more: When and where you must wear a mask in France: Checklist

But Dr Pelloux added a hopeful message too, saying that wearing masks would not last forever. He said: “What is reassuring, is that one day, the epidemic will stop. So we will stop wearing masks. That is for sure.”

Dr Pelloux’s comments come days after the government and health authorities warned that the “epidemic was restarting in certain areas” and described the current figures as “worrying”.

Warnings were issued after there were 1,000 new cases declared in 24 hours last week, with infection rates up 26% week-on-week.

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