French PM calls on commuters to wear masks as Covid cases rise

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French PM calls on commuters to wear masks as Covid cases rise
Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP

France's Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has appealed for people using public transport and in other crowded spaces to begin wearing masks again, as Covid cases rise.


Masks have not been compulsory on public transport in France since May, though they remain "strongly recommended", especially at rush hour. 

Borne's "appel solennel" (solemn appeal) on Tuesday does not change the rules, it is merely a request to reinstate masks and other hygiene gestures such as social distancing in order to protect French health services, which are dealing with rising Covid cases as well as high numbers of flu and bronchitis patients.

France reported 400 Covid deaths last week. 


Borne told Parliament: "This new wave reminds us that the virus has not disappeared, the epidemic can still strike."

She called on people to wear face masks on public transport and other crowded areas and to get vaccinated against Covid and flu.

A second booster shot of the Covid vaccine is now available to over 60s and people with health problems including diabetes, respiratory problems and obesity - find full details here - but, according to Borne, only around 10 percent of eligible people have had the second booster.

The flu vaccine is now open to everyone, although those not in priority groups (over 60s, pregnant women, people with health conditions, health workers and carers) will have to pay around €6 for their vaccine. For priority groups it is free.

When, where and how to get a flu vaccine in France

France has over the past week recorded an average of 40,000 new Covid cases per day, with Borne referring to "an increase of nearly 10 percent in hospitalisations over a week, a 22 percent increase in critical care hospitalisations and 400 deaths from Covid last week."


The advice from French rail operator and Paris public transport operator remains - as it has since May - that masks are "strongly recommended" especially at peak times, but are not compulsory, while budget bus operator Flixbus has also made a statement "encouraging" passengers to wear masks, especially over the busy holiday period. 

Masks are no longer compulsory in any public spaces in France, although visitors to hospitals and care homes can be required to wear one, while some doctor's offices and pharmacies retain a mask rule.


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