France says making masks mandatory in transports hinges on COVID situation

PARIS — The decision to make wearing face-masks in public transportation mandatory again to contain a new surge in the COVID-19 epidemic will depend on the evolution of the situation, French Health Minister Francois Braun said on Monday.

“I invite people to put on masks in public transportation even if it’s not mandatory,” he told reporters during a visit of French hospital.

“The decision (to make it mandatory) will depend on the evolution of the pandemic,” Mr. Braun said, adding that option was “on the table”.

As of last Friday, the seven-day moving average of daily new COVID infections stood at 54,824, a more than six-week high in France versus less than 25,000 in early November.

However, it is still well below levels of over 100,000 seen over March-April and in July, and a record of over 366,000 in January.

The number of people in intensive care units for COVID-19 has reached a peak since Aug 8, at 1,113 and total hospitalizations for the disease are close to 20,000 again for the first time since end October.

Last week, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said she recommended that people wear masks in public transport and when they come in contact with vulnerable people. — Reuters