France is beginning to see the light at the end of the long pandemic tunnel. At least, you already have some dates to hold on to: on February 28, the obligation to wear a mask in closed places will end, as long as the vaccination passport is required at the entrance. The number of tests required of people who have been in contact with a positive case will also be reduced from three to just one and in schools, back to school after the winter holidays -between the end of February and the beginning of March, depending on the region—, students will also suffer fewer restrictions, according to the French government, which does not rule out even revoking the vaccination passport when spring arrives if the situation continues to improve.
The decision to lighten the protocols is based on the “favorable evolution of the health situation,” the Ministry of Health said in a statement. In their weekly epidemiological report, the health authorities also confirmed this Friday the “confirmation in the national territory of the slowdown in circulation” of the coronavirus in the week from January 31 to February 6, with a decrease in the incidence rate of the coronavirus. 29%. However, they warn in their report, the improvement is “less marked” in the population over 60 years of age and, in hospitals, the tension remained “high”.
This is probably why the national authorities have decided to wait two weeks to lighten the protocol. The fact of announcing it so far in advance also has a political angle: this Friday, Paris was preparing —with a strong police force— for the arrival of the so-called “freedom convoys”, a motorized movement of citizens who, inspired by Canada’s truckers protest, advance to the French capital to protest the heavy restrictions imposed during the pandemic. The Prefecture of Paris announced on Thursday the ban on these demonstrations and the installation of a specific device to “prevent roadblocks, sanctioning and arresting those who contravene this demonstration ban.”
Protests in Paris
Faced with these protests, the Government has once again defended its decision to impose the vaccine passport to access most public places. “The vaccine passport allows us, in a context in which the epidemic pressure is greatly reduced, and as we did before this wave, to abolish the obligation to wear a mask in places that receive the public,” said the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, to the France Presse agency. Since February 2, the mask is no longer mandatory outdoors, although its use is recommended in places with a high density of people. The next step will be taken on Wednesday the 16th, with the reopening of the clubs, closed since December, and the end of the ban on consuming while standing up in bars.
In addition to eliminating indoor masks that require a passport – on public transport, on the contrary, it will continue to be mandatory – the Government will lighten the protocol for cases of contact with positive covid patients on the 28th: instead of having to undergo three covid tests (the same day it is notified, on two days and on the fourth), will only require a self-test on the second day after knowing that a confirmed case was close. If it tests positive, a “confirmation” antigen or PCR test will be required and you must remain in isolation, as it has been in force until now: if you are vaccinated, seven days that can be reduced to five if the test is negative at that time; and a minimum of seven days if the person is not vaccinated or has not completed the doses.
This week, the Government has even dared to give a horizon for the end of the vaccination passport: the end of March or the beginning of April, if the figures continue to improve. “Good sense orders us to go progressively,” Prime Minister Jean Castex said on France 2. “But if the vast majority of citizens behave responsibly, we could end up easing restrictions,” he said. he.
Meanwhile, the Minister of National Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, has also announced this Friday a lightened protocol for returning to class after the holidays, at the end of the month, for when primary school students and teaching staff will no longer have to wear a mask. outdoors. As in the adult population, only one test will be required and not three for cases of close contact with a positive and it will be possible to practice sports indoors without a mask, although it will continue to be mandatory in classrooms.
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