France’s health minister has said he “sincerely hopes” that it will no longer be necessary for people to wear masks outside this summer, when “enough people have been vaccinated”.
Olivier Véran said that he could not give an exact date for when this would be, but said that as soon as it is safe to stop applying barrier gestures, such as distancing and wearing a mask, the government would end the measures “immediately”.
“What we know for sure is that the vaccine protects us from serious forms [of Covid-19].
“What we strongly believe is that...the vaccine really protects us from the risk of getting infected, and therefore the risk of spreading the virus and causing an epidemic,” he said in an interview with Europe 1 yesterday (May 4).
“That means that when we have vaccinated enough people, we can lower our guard.”
Over 16 million people in France have received at least a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination. The government has said that it is on track to reach 20 million people by mid-May and is aiming to give a first dose to every willing adult by the end of the summer.
Wearing a mask outside became obligatory across much of France in August 2020.
The Alpes-Maritimes in southeast France yesterday (May 4) relaxed the obligation to wear masks on the beach, along the coast and in green spaces.
French medical experts have been divided on the necessity of wearing masks outside to stem the Covid-19 pandemic.
Professor Patrick Berche, a doctor and former director general of the medical research institute, the Lille Institut Pasteur, said there is very little chance of catching Covid-19 outside.
“If there is a gathering, if there are people within a metre of each other, then you have the possibility of being contaminated, but it's still quite rare,” he told BFMTV.
Dr Michel Chassang, honorary president of Doctors’ union the Confédération des syndicats médicaux, said the mask helps to remind people there is a pandemic.
“Wearing a mask is also symbolic. It reminds you that we are still in an epidemic crisis. We all need a constant reminder,” he told BFMTV.
In the UK, masks are only required in indoor public settings. In Germany, masks are required in all indoor public spaces as well as on public transport or in certain outdoor areas where a lot of people gather.