Should the wearing of the compulsory mask in an outdoor environment be extended? The Minister of Health Olivier Véran, in any case took a further step in this direction Friday 31 by giving the possibility to the prefects to extend the wearing of the mask to outdoor public places by decree.
To limit the circulation of #COVID__19 , the prefects will now be able by decree to extend the obligation to wear a mask to open public places.
This decision can be made locally, depending on the evolution of the epidemic in each territory.
– Olivier Véran (@olivierveran) July 31, 2020
And to illustrate this new possibility, the prefect of the North announced that wearing a mask would be compulsory in public spaces, from midnight Sunday, in certain areas of the European metropolis of Lille (MEL). The stated objective is to impose the wearing of the mask where the density is high in order to avoid re-containment.
The prefectural decree will be valid for one month and renewable. Any violation will be punished with a fine of 135 €. This restrictive measure is justified according to the prefect in view of the progression of the epidemic where the incidence rate reached 31 per 100,000 inhabitants whereas it was 17 the previous week.
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Two days ago, Olivier Véran was preparing the population for this possibility by warning: “If you are in a street where there are several people going for a walk and you are not sure you can keep the distance, wearing a mask, I recommend it”, he said during a trip to a logistics site for sending free masks in Yvelines on Wednesday July 29.
The threat of spreading the virus in the air
The minister justified his position by invoking the opinion of the World Health Organization. The institution recognized, on July 9, the risk of the transmission of the new coronavirus by aerosol, that is to say via exhaled mini-droplets which remain suspended in the air for sometimes several hours.
Bruno Lina, virologist member of the scientific council, recognizes the advantages of the mask outdoors. “In certain regions, locally, there are centers of transmission where the source patients cannot be found. “ Wearing a mask as a precaution becomes useful to avoid the snowball effect.
Already compulsory in several cities
In Mayenne, for example, wearing a mask became compulsory at the start of the week. A prefectural decree imposes it in certain streets of Laval, Mayenne, Château-Gontier-sur-Mayenne and Évron. The department has been placed in high vulnerability by Santé Publique France since mid-July.
But for the virologist, these are especially in external environments “Which I call” semi-confined “: at high density, where the population remains static and the road is narrow” that it becomes essential to wear mouth and nasal protection.
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This configuration is found in particular in tourist places. Several cities flocking to vacationers have taken such measures. La Rochelle imposes the mask in the Old Port and in the city center from July 22 until August 31. Saint-Malo made the same decision this Thursday for those who want to walk in the city intramural and on the ramparts. The mask is also required in certain streets in Biarritz, Bayonne, Argelès-sur-Mer, Concarneau, Saint-Brieuc, Grau-du-Roi or even Mont-Saint-Michel under penalty of a fine.
There is also concern in the territories located close to the borders, especially Belgium. The North Prefecture is also organizing a press conference on Friday July 31 to detail the new preventive measures, where the mask outdoors could be required. It has been compulsory in Belgium since July 25 in shopping streets and markets.
But there is no point in imposing it throughout France, believes Pierre Parneix, hospital hygiene doctor at the Bordeaux University Hospital. “We must apply it where the virus becomes more active, to give ourselves more guarantees. At the moment, there is no point in enlarging at the national level, and I hope that it will not come to that. “
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“You still have to wear it on your mouth and on your nose, with and whisk Bruno Lina. Otherwise, it’s no use! We still see a lot of people who wear it anyhow, there is really a learning to do. ” He nevertheless reassures: “Today, the circulation of the virus is silent, it is done at low noise, we are not at all in a peak. To keep things from getting worse, people have to play by the rules. “