President Emmanuel Macron announced the extension of the facemask mandate during his televised address on Tuesday, November 9th.
“In this context of epidemic recovery, we must redouble our vigilance,” he said. “All the relaxations that were envisaged for a moment will be postponed in order to maintain the rules currently in force.
“Even if I know how difficult it is, the wearing of the mask at school will be maintained for the time being.”
In fact, the decision brings remaining départements in France into line with the majority of the country. After the Toussaint holidays, Covid cases were above alert thresholds in a total of 61 departements, triggering the facemask requirement at primary school level.
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Covid figures meant primary schools in 40 of France’s 101 départements which had been mask-free for weeks saw the reintroduction of mask rules in class. A further 21 départements had kept the rule in place since the start of the new school year.
Pupils in collèges and lycées have been wearing masks throughout.
With nearly 75 percent of the total population (and nearly 90 percent of the eligible population of over 12s) inoculated against the Covid, France is one of Europe’s vaccine leaders.
But the pace of new vaccinations has slowed since the summer, when millions rushed to get shots after the introduction of a Covid pass to enter bars, restaurants, gyms and other entertainment and sporting venues.
In his speech on Tuesday, Macron laid out his concerns about rising Covid cases in France, and again urged those eligible to have a third vaccine dose.