French Court overturns decision to reinstate masks on Nice transport

The mayor of Nice had announced they would be brought back in from next Monday

Masks are recommended on public transport in France but they are not obligatory

The administrative court of Nice has overturned a ruling by the city’s mayor, Christian Estrosi, to make masks mandatory on public transport again from Monday (July 11).

The judges ruled that the Covid situation in the city on France’s Côte d'Azur did not merit rules being different from the rest of the country.

On a national level, masks are only recommended on public transport but they are not obligatory.

The court also judged that the decree taken by the mayor infringed on people’s personal liberties and could impact people who do not reside in Nice. The judges called it a “serious and manifestly illegal infringement”.

Mr Estrosi announced last Wednesday his desire to have masks made mandatory on public transport as France faces a seventh wave of Covid, with case rates, hospitalisations and ICU admittances rising around the country.

Read more: Covid deaths in France surpass 150,000, hospitalisations on rise again

But the court found that while the incidence rate of Covid – meaning the number of cases per week per 100,000 people – is higher in Nice than other parts of the country, the occupancy rate of ICU beds is lower.

The incidence rate in Alpes-Maritimes, Nice’s department, is 1,379. The national average is 1,293. The hospital tension rate – meaning the percentage of ICU beds occupied by Covid patients – is 16% in Nice and 19.9% nationally.

The number of ICU beds is based on pre-pandemic numbers and more beds have since been made available.

Mr Estrosi acknowledged the court’s decision in a post on Twitter but said that the measure he took was “necessary” based on the situation.

“I remain concerned about the exhausted hospital staff, the high number of patients in our region during this summer period and the risk of straining hospital capacities if this seventh wave continues to progress so rapidly,” he said.

He asked individuals to be responsible and said that the health of vulnerable people, the local economy and conditions for the return of schools at the start of September were “all at stake”.

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