Covid-19: when will the end of wearing a mask outside?

The view of the stone tower of Castella, the clinking of clinking glasses, the face bathed in the sun. The whole face. Because whether on the terrace of the Dungeon or around, the blue fabrics on the tip of the nose are not legion. It has been more than a month since a prefectural decree allows the inhabitants of Tarascon-sur-Ariège to no longer wear the mask outside, except around schools or on the market. What does that change for this small town at the foot of the mountains? ” But all ! exclaims Martine Mazoin, the manager of the brewery. We see each other, we recognize each other, we understand each other, we smile. We just live, ”she lists, without forgetting the shocking detail, the end of the fog on her glasses when she walks.

“This is not a decision taken lightly”

Unlike Israel or the United States – which respectively relaxed this usage in mid and late April – France is advancing under cover. Even if local initiatives are multiplying. Outside, the mask gradually disappears in the Cher (except in the hypercentre of Bourges), Creuse, Lozère. In the municipalities of less than 10,000 inhabitants of Puy-de-Dôme. In the Alpes-Maritimes, it is no longer compulsory on the coast or in green spaces. In Arcachon (Gironde), you can do without it, even in the city center.

“This is not a decision taken lightly,” insists Françoise Mesnard, the mayor (PS) of Saint-Jean-d’Angély (Charente-Maritime), who took the plunge on May 15. “Our incidence is low, at 38, below the alert threshold of 50. We have a population that is a little more vaccinated than the national average, and with the Boutonne valley or the Lake, we have square. All the conditions are in place to relieve a little of the inhabitants outside, ”notes the elected representative, who is also a public health doctor. “And then, removing it is not an obligation,” she recalls. Everyone does what he wants. “She has trouble discovering herself …” It’s a bit schizophrenic this story, she jokes. On the one hand, we are fed up with it. On the other, we are afraid to remove it. “

The ministry is thinking about it

As the epidemic recedes in France and hospital beds gradually become available, the question becomes urgent. Return (finally) of the good weather, prospect of June 9 and the total reopening of the restaurants, vaccination for all from this Monday… Faced with these doors open on a normalized life, the mask appears like the last lock. “It’s too early to say we let it go outside. Inside, let’s not even talk about it! But the epidemic pressure being less and less strong, it will undoubtedly be necessary to reassess its usefulness, in particular in certain areas in the open air ”, we are told in the entourage of Olivier Véran, the health Minister.

This is good, the High Council of Public Health (HCSP), which helps with health decisions, is just waiting for a referral from the ministry to speak on the subject. “We could issue an opinion in a few days,” confirms the co-chair of its Covid-19 working group, Professor Didier Lepelletier, specialist in the prevention and control of infections at the Nantes University Hospital (Loire-Atlantique). According to him, the exterior should be divided. “In short, it would be: if you are alone, do not wear a mask, you have no one to protect. If you are surrounded by a high density of people, continue to put it on, ”he sums up. But be careful, caution, monitoring and progressiveness are required. “For example, comparing yourself to the United States is not a good idea. They are a quarter ahead of us on vaccination. We are just starting the 20-40 year olds who are the people who transmit the most, ”he says.

“It is still too early to abandon it, even outside, slice for his part Patrick Chamboredon, president of the Order of Nurses. As long as collective immunity is not reached, we must remain cautious. Certainly, the sheaves are empty, but this summer, caregivers will be faced with strong activity with all the reprogramming. To relax now is to take the risk of seeing the epidemic flare up again! “To avoid this, while relaxing the constraint of the mask, Didier Lepelletier suggests focusing on information and education. “Educating the population in the right actions is essential. Collective success will be born from our individual behavior. We can do it. “

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