It is the disappearance of the last major restriction against Covid in a context of health calm: wearing a mask is no longer compulsory, from Monday May 16, in public transport in France. Until now, the wearing of the mask was imposed in the subways, buses, trains, planes and taxis.
This is the end of the last major marker of the Covid-19 epidemic in the public space, a decision which confirms that the disease has become a lesser health concern than a policy, more than two years after the arrival of the pandemic in Europe.
For the past few weeks, contaminations and hospitalizations linked to Covid-19 have finally been decreasing after a very long winter wave. And even when it was at a high level at the start of the year, the disease had already passed into the background of concerns, the health situation remaining very little mentioned during the presidential campaign which saw the re-election of Emanuel Macron.
The government maintains a cautious tone
In this context, the government had already taken several emblematic measures in recent months: the end in March of the wearing of masks, except in transport, and the end of the vaccination pass, which required being vaccinated against Covid-19 to access many places like restaurants and cinemas.
However, some researchers warn against an excessive feeling of security, warning that the epidemic is under control but probably not over, especially in the face of the threat of a new variant. And for the time being, even if the epidemic is declining sharply, “the virological indicators remain high”, warned the French public health agency on Friday.
The government therefore maintains a cautious tone. The Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, repeated last week that the pandemic was “not over”, that wearing a mask remained “recommended” and that it could become compulsory again if the context required it.
Several measures, of lesser magnitude, remain in place: the health pass, which presupposes being vaccinated or having recently tested negative for the virus, is thus always required to access a health or related establishment (hospitals, Ehpad…).
France’s neighbors have already lifted most of their restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. Generally only remains the wearing of the mask in certain places. Spain, for example, still imposes it in health establishments, retirement homes and transport, while in Belgium, it is only compulsory in transport. In addition to the mask, Germany requires a test with a negative result to go to the hospital.
It is now in Italy that the mask remains the most widespread. In addition to the places mentioned above, Italy still imposes it in cinemas, theaters and concert halls, in schools, on shop staff and on administrative officials who are in contact with the public. Italy also still requires the vaccination pass to go to health establishments and retirement homes.