Most of the restrictions imposed to combat Covid were lifted on Monday, against the background of calls for caution in the face of the “rebound” of the epidemic (AFP/Pascal Guyot)
Seeing the faces of his colleagues or his lover in full, he no longer takes his pass for coffee in the pub… Most of the restrictions against Covid were lifted on Monday on the back of the government’s call for “vigilance” and “caution” in the face of the pandemic recovery.
Anyone who wishes can now access cinemas, theaters, restaurants, galleries… without justifying a vaccination permit. Or walking openly in schools and stores.
In transport and health institutions, a mask remains mandatory. And companies can always impose it on their employees.
At the foot of the La Defense Towers on Monday morning, masks were extremely rare and satisfaction prevailed among the workers encountered by AFP.
“I’m so glad we can finally remove it, even if it’s been so long since we’ve respected the rules so much in the office” since the vaccination, said Nathan LeFover, the communications officer, 24.
On his way to Paul Hazard High School in Armentières (North), Cassander, a first-year student, was masked as he got off the bus, intending to leave him in his institution: “She is liberated.”
But not everyone was excited. For Jordan Tourian, 30, director of a marketing school in La Défense, “students will be happy” but there is “a little bit of anxiety on the part of supervisors”.
The “Health” card, which also works with a negative test for the virus, is kept in health institutions and nursing homes.
– ‘Proportional measures’ –
A graph showing the evolution of hospitalizations and people in critical care in France, as of March 14 (AFP /)
If it was clear that the fifth wave of the epidemic began to reappear at the beginning of March, when the government announced these relief measures, this is no longer the case. The average over the past seven days was more than 65,882 new infections on Monday, compared to 52,715 the previous week.
“I think we have always taken proportionate measures. And indeed the epidemic has started again (…) but the noticeable variable are the dangerous forms of the disease, that is, those that can lead to hospitalization (…)”, Prime Minister Jan Castex announced on Monday during Journey to the southwest.
However, this opposite trend has so far had no effect on critical care services, even if an increase in the number of hospitalized cases was recorded on Sunday.
“We will still have to wait a bit to see if this trend is confirmed but, in fact, at the level of Europe, we are seeing the same thing,” noted on Sunday at France Inter Yazdan Yazdanpanah, head of the infectious diseases department at Bichat Hospital in Paris.
This member of the Scientific Council sees “three reasons” for this: the BA2 sub-alternate, which is now in the majority and “a bit more portable,” “schools reopening” after the holidays and “possibly the residents have relaxed.”
– ‘Not a wave’ –
The government has decided to open the fourth dose of the vaccine now to people over 80 years old and “strongly recommends that people who are vulnerable, due to their advanced age or diseases, keep wearing a mask indoors and in large gatherings.”
An calendar showing the gradual easing of restrictions in France (AFP /)
“Let’s talk about common sense – it applies even to all French people, but to those in particular – to wear a mask,” Jean Castex insisted on Monday.
“As for mask wear, I think it makes sense to continue wearing it when you’re a certain age, when you’re tired, or immunocompromised, indoors, in gatherings where there are a lot of people,” he added.
The Minister of Health, Olivier Veran, noted on the sidelines of a trip meeting to Vendee.
“Is being able to take the mask off today a bad decision in terms of recovery? The answer is no,” the minister stressed, adding: “This rebound is not a wave.”
For experts, a strong vaccination of the population and a large number of already infected people give protective immunity. Anyway “in terms of hospitalization”, Yazdan identifies Yazdanpanah.
Indeed, in the most pessimistic scenario, the Pasteur Institute estimates that the pollution peak “could exceed 100,000 daily cases in March,” a high number but “well below the January peak,” according to new models published Thursday.