The Minister of Health Olivier Véran announced this Wednesday, at the end of the Council of Ministers, the end of wearing a mask in transport from May 16. A measure that worries some specialists who fear a premature decision.
It’s – almost – the end of wearing a mask. Since March 14, the French were no longer obliged to wear a mask indoors, with the exception of transport and health establishments. From May 16, they will also be able to remove it in trains, metro and buses, but also in airports and on board planes within the European Union.
“The epidemic situation is improving, the pandemic is not over, but the number of new daily diagnoses is decreasing and we consider that it is no longer appropriate to maintain this obligation to wear a mask in public transport, at from Monday, May 16″, announced Olivier Véran after the Council of Ministers on Wednesday.
Wearing an “adaptive” mask
Immediately, the announcement made caregivers and specialists react. “This is good news because it reflects a more favorable situation of the epidemic”, notes Yves Buisson, epidemiologist, president of the Covid-19 cell of the national academy of medicine.
“But if the mask will no longer be compulsory in public transport, it will always be recommended, especially for the elderly and people at risk,” he insists. “The epidemic continues to claim lives every day. It’s not over. People at risk must continue to protect themselves.”
“Transport covers a variety of contexts. There is no solution that works every time”, explains, for his part, Mircea Sofonea, lecturer in epidemiology and evolution of infectious diseases at the University of Montpellier, contacted by BFMTV. “In some cases, wearing a mask may appear excessive and perceived as such, in others it remains appropriate,” he continues.
“Carrying it to a deserted bus stop doesn’t serve the same purpose as carrying it to a sports fan coach or a crowded subway train you know you’ll be staying in for a while.”
Putting the mask back on in the fall?
The two epidemiologists therefore call for the wearing of a tailor-made mask, adapted to the situation. Mircea Sofonea also regrets that the principle of “health solidarity” has not been put forward by the government, in particular vis-à-vis immunocompromised people.
Mircea Sofonea is also worried about the evolution of the epidemic in the coming months, when an outbreak of cases in South Africa raises the specter of a new wave. “We know very well that in the fall, or before, there may be a rebound in the epidemic and therefore it is possible that we will have to return to wearing a mask”, he explains. “Does lifting the obligation trigger something irreversible?” he finally asks.