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Top French fashion brands start making free face masks

France has long been short on protective face masks, even for the people fighting on the front line of the coronavirus epidemic. Now, some of the country's most prestigious fashion houses are vowing to help.

Top French fashion brands start making free face masks
Photo: AFP

Louis Vuitton is converting five of its French workshops to make masks for frontline health workers, the luxury brand said Wednesday.

Its chairman Michael Burke praised employees who had volunteered to make the non-surgical masks with France hit by shortages of protective facing coverings.

READ ALSO: Mask or no mask – what is the official coronavirus advice in France

He said hundreds of thousands of masks would be produced in the workshops which usually turn out designer clothes and luxury leather goods.

Dior, which is also owned by LVMH, the world's biggest luxury goods group, has been making masks since the end of last month for hospital staff.

It said that seamstresses who usually work on couture creations had volunteered to go back to its ateliers in Redon in Brittany in western France, which has been closed since France when into lockdown on March 17.

“In an exceptional show of solidarity, our wonderful petites mains (or “little hands”, as those who make luxury clothes are called) are working tirelessly” to protect health workers, the label said.

A number of fashion labels have also been making masks for free, with designers also sharing their DIY patterns online.

LVMH boss Bernard Arnault, the world's second richest man after Amazon's Jeff Bezos, last month ordered his perfumeries that usually make fragrances for Dior, Guerlain and Givenchy to switch production to hydroalcoholic gel hand sanitiser.

The gel was then distributed free to French hospitals. LVMH said they would make as much of the gels “as was needed… and honour the commitment as long as necessary.”

READ ALSO These are the French towns set to make masks compulsory

 

 

 

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COVID-19

French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The French parliament has passed the controversial health bill which updates France's emergency provisions for Covid - and allows the return of negative Covid tests for all travellers at the border, if the health situation requires.

French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The Loi sanitaire was eventually approved by the Assemblée nationale on Monday after several variations and amendments added on its passage through the Assemblée and the Senate. It was voted on and passed Tuesday, May 26th. 

The bill replaces the State of Health Emergency that has been in place since March 2020 and puts in place provision for government actions should the health situation deteriorate or a dangerous new variant of Covid emerge.

The original text had a provision for the return of the health pass at the border, but this has now been scrapped and instead the government has the right to make a negative Covid test a condition of entry for all travellers.

At present negative tests are required only for unvaccinated travellers, and the new test requirement would only be put into force if a dangerous new variant emerges.

The government will be able to implement the testing rule by decree for two months, but a further parliamentary debate would be required to extend it beyond that.

From August 1st the State of Health Emergency will be formally repealed, which means that the government no longer has the power to introduce major limits on personal freedom such as lockdowns or curfews without first having a debate in parliament.

The bill also allows for an extension of data collection required for the SI-DEP epidemic monitoring tools such as the contact tracing app Tous Anti Covid until June 30th, 2023 and Contact Covid until January 31st, 2023. 

The most controversial measure in the bill was the reinstatement of healthcare workers who were suspended for being unvaccinated – this actually only involves a couple of hundred people but medical unions and the medical regulator Haut Autorité de Santé (HAS) have both been against it.

However the bill allows for the eventual lifting of the requirement for Covid vaccination for healthcare workers, when the HAS judges it is no longer necessary and once the requirement is lifted, the suspended healthcare workers will be reinstated “immediately”.

The bill was approved on Monday evening with 184 votes to 149, the result of a joint committee that was able to harmonise the versions of the Assembly and the Senate.

The final vote passed the Senate on Tuesday.

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