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The pandemic calms down in France and chinstraps will no longer be mandatory in schools and closed places

The omicron wave calms down in several European countries and governments hope for control by the end of March or April. But the French Executive has begun to reduce the restrictions and the mandatory use of chinstraps in closed places and at school from next February 28, if they have a vaccination passport.

Prime Minister Jean Castex recognized “a favorable evolution” but warned that “the Pandemic has killed 2,000 people in seven days in France.”

The incidence and positivity rate have begun to drop to 2,163 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and 31.7 percent, respectively. The French are tested less because they feel less worried. The drop in hospitalizations continues. But 4,416 people were still in intensive care this Thursday.

Health Minister Olivier Veran announced the new measures on the use of chinstraps this Friday in the face of “an improvement in the health situation” in the country.

The use of chinstraps inside will be maintained in transport and closed places that are not subject to the rule of showing the vaccination passport. But it will no longer be mandatory in establishments dedicated to entertainment, restaurants, bars, fairs, museums and even cinemas, ”he announced.

A sign in a Paris cinema requires the use of a mask, in an image from 2021. Photo: AFP

“The vaccination passport allows us, in a context where the Pandemic pressure has been greatly reduced, and as we did before this wave, to abolish the obligation to wear masks in public establishments,” said the health minister.

More flexible protocol

The decision is based on the recommendations of the High Council of Public Health this Friday. At the same time the testing system will be lighter. Only two tests will be necessary from the month of February to replace the two, after having contacted a positive person.

Education Minister Jean Michel Blanquer announced a relief in the sanitary protocolwhich put an end to face masks outside for students and teachers in primary school.

This surprising relief is part of a backdrop that the government also regularly reaffirms these days: the possible lifting of the vaccination pass itself at “late March-early April”, according to official spokesman Gabriel Attal.

This abandonment of the health passport It will only be ratified if the health situation allows it and if Alain Fischer, who coordinates the authorities’ anti-Covid-19 strategy, decides in his favor.

If the cases of Covid continue to drop, in the schools of France, a mask will not be required since March.  Photo: AFP

If the cases of Covid continue to drop, in the schools of France, a mask will not be required since March. Photo: AFP

The students are also happy about the end of the obligation to wear a mask outdoors at school from February 28.

The possibility of going back to playing indoor sports without a mask (except contact sports) is good news. In the school canteen you can mix levels, the mix will no longer be limited to classes.

Fewer tests

The Minister of Education also announced that, as of February 28, the date of return to school of the academies in zone B, a self-test will only be requested in primary school when a positive case is detected in the class.

Three are currently needed, one the same day or the next day to be received in class -if the teacher is not positive-, and another two on days 2 and 4.

“Two weeks ago we had 167,000 cases per day, yesterday 12,500 cases. Obviously it is a clear improvement that allows us to consider the reductions that we have been talking about for several days,” said Minister Blanquer.

There are currently 5,907 classrooms closed due to contamination in France. Last week there were 16,836.

But as Professor Fischer says, everything can change quickly, from one week to the next. In Russia and Ukraine there is a record number of infected in the last 24 hours, as in Malaysia and Hong Kong, where the pandemic was believed to be controlled.

Paris, correspondent

CB

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