French government ministers recently appealed to members of the public to begin wearing a face mask once again in crowded spaces such as public transport.
This comes as the country faces a triple epidemic of Covid, flu and bronchiolitis. Although the ninth wave of Covid appears to have reached its peak and bronchiolitis and flu cases seem to be stabilising, infection numbers remain high and are putting pressure on hospital services.
We asked Connexion readers if they followed the government’s advice and whether they have noticed more people wearing masks in recent weeks.
‘We never stopped’
Simon Croxson, who lives in Gironde, said: “We have never stopped wearing masks on public transport, in shops or in other crowded places.
“We were probably the only two amongst thousands at the Paris Nightwish concert wearing masks! We use FFP2s or N95s since they protect the wearer as well as contacts, and can be washed gently and re-used.
“We continue to avoid crowds, to use alcohol gel on leaving shops and washing hands on getting home etc.
“We are not taking any chances; although severe Covid infections seem less common (presumably due to vaccinations), new studies are still being published showing more health problems associated with Covid.
However, “we see only a few people wearing masks in our area, Gironde, although there are slightly more than a month ago.”
Geoff Tidy also said: “We have never stopped wearing masks on public transport, shops, markets etc.
“Recently, I attended a large clinic and witnessed half of the staff and most of the patients not wearing masks despite the signs everywhere requesting it.
“Not to wear masks is a selfish response to the ever-present Covid danger.”
A frightening experience
David Rosemont told us: “Over recent years I have taken a French guy from my village to the local supermarket about every two weeks.
“He was always very grateful to the extent he bought me a drink or gave my daughter some chocolates. He was awful at wearing a mask and was always coughing but I did wear a mask in the car.
“At the beginning of the week before Christmas I was feeling bad and rapidly deteriorated. I had to call for an ambulance and was taken to the local general hospital.
“My condition worsened and I had no knowledge at the time but I had to be transferred to a teaching hospital where my situation became critical. I was put into réanimation (intensive care) where my condition was described as precarious.
“My wife and daughter apparently looked at me through a glass screen and wondered if I would survive.
“Luckily I have survived, but it will be some time before I am back to normal, if ever, as I now have to wear a breathing apparatus at night. I count myself as very fortunate and thank the wonderful French health system.
“After a few days back home I was reading the local paper including, as ever, the obituaries.
“There was my Frenchman's name, roughly my age. It brings it home to you.
“If you have any issues I urge you to be very careful. I shall be wearing a mask in public places for the time being.”
‘I rarely see other people wearing masks’
Nicole Paroissien, who lives in Paris’ 9th arrondissement, said: “Ever since the French government recommended it, I’ve been wearing a mask in shops and other more or less crowded spaces.
“I rarely see other people wearing masks (except staff in small shops, pharmacies, etc.).
“I was also the only person wearing a mask in the rather spacious Fondation Louis Vuitton exhibition Monet/Mitchell.
“People sometimes look at me suspiciously, as though I might be infected with, and determined to spread, the latest Covid variant.”
A reader who preferred not to be named said that he had “noticed an uptick in mask-wearing in the Châteaubriant area” (Loire-Atlantique), while Stephanie Campion, who lives in Ile-de-France said: “I am disgusted by the lack of masks being worn on the metro.
“I’m often the only one in the whole carriage to be wearing one. It’s a bit better on the RER.”
‘It’s not such a hardship’
Claire Kirkus commented: “I don’t use public transport but I have not stopped wearing a mask in shops or in taxis, or in any public place where there are a lot of people.
“As there is still good reason I shall continue to do so for the foreseeable future – possibly for years if it seems advisable.
“It’s not such a hardship.”
Sarah Pegg shared the same opinion, saying: “I wear a mask in covered public venues, especially in supermarkets, and have done so since they were originally made compulsory.
“It’s a small thing we can do to try and slow down the spread of Covid.”
Vernon Pritchard stated: “I wear a mask in crowded places, but not many do, only older people.”
Finally, Sandra Browne said: “I travelled by TGV down to Aix back in December and everyone was wearing a mask, myself included, on the train.
“Where I live in Oise it is rare to see anyone in a mask – occasional elderly people excepted.”