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COVID-19

Macron backs making face masks mandatory indoors in France

French President Emmanuel Macron said a rule on face masks in public indoor spaces could come into force in weeks, as infections picked up in France.

Macron backs making face masks mandatory indoors in France
Macron made the comments in a televised interview on Bastille Day. Photo: Stefano Rellandini/AFP

“I would like to make masks mandatory in all enclosed public spaces,” Macron said in a televised interview, saying such a measure could come into force from August 1st.

Responding to concerns that infections are again on the up in France he added: “We have indications that (the outbreak) is accelerating a bit.”

He said in particular that the virus reproduction rate, the “R” ratio, had risen above one in France, meaning that a single person infected with Covid-19 is likely spreading the disease to others.

Masks are already required on public transport across France, “but it's a little spotty in enclosed public spaces”, Macron acknowledged.

Prominent doctors urged the government this week to require masks in order to prevent a second wave of.

The mayor of Saint-Ouen, a suburb just north of Paris, on Monday made masks mandatory after several coronavirus cases were discovered at a school.

Asked if France had enough face masks in case of a new spike in cases, Macron said: “We will be ready.”

“We have secured both the stocks and the supply sources, and we are organised on the ground, to allow us to deal with an upsurge, if it comes,” he said in a rare televised interview to mark the Bastille Day national holiday.

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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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