Wearing a facemask outside in France should no longer be necessary from next month, as long as other health measures are respected, one of the country's leading medical experts has said.
In welcome news, as summer temperatures soar, directeur général de la Santé Jérôme Salomon said current rules look set to be eased.
Although no formal decision has been made, Professor Salomon told broadcaster RTL: "From July 1, rules for wearing masks outdoors should be lifted, in compliance with barrier gestures. They will be maintained indoors."
« A partir du 1er juillet, le port du masque en extérieur devrait être levé dans le respect des gestes barrières. Il sera maintenu à l'intérieur », selon Jérôme Salomon, directeur général de la santé, invité de #RTLMatin pic.twitter.com/yKDf4zKsL2— RTL France (@RTLFrance) June 14, 2021
Professor Salomon appeared confident that the next stage of easing restrictions, including abolishing the 23:00 curfew, set for June 30 was achievable. "If everything goes well, we will still lift a certain number of constraints on June 30," he said.
"We have rather good news. This weekend, we went under the bar of 5,000 daily cases … But we must still be very vigilant and careful."
He insisted the easing of mask-wearing measures depended on the health situation continuing to improve, and urged people to make 'another effort [to get a] vaccination' and 'another small effort in terms of sanitary measures' - key elements, he said, to enjoying 'a serene summer'.
Asked if it was necessary to make vaccination compulsory, he said: "We have all the doses available, we have all the centres open, we have all the slots available (...) It is really time to get vaccinated," he said.
He said people could also organise vaccinations around their summer holiday plans."We can get our second injection when coming back from vacation rather than telling ourselves that we are going to postpone everything.
"We have widened the schedule. We can be vaccinated a little earlier and a little later."
On Sunday, infectious diseases specialist Professor Christian Rabaud had told franceinfo that "the prospect of removing mask wearing outside appears both possible and probably not very dangerous".
But the Ministry of Health later tried to cool expectations, saying decisions on whether it was safe to remove outdoor facemask requirements had yet to be made. "Scientific experts will be asked to give their opinion in June on a change in this rule," it said in a statement.