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France to end mandatory outdoor masks and COVID curfew

Prime Minister Jean Castex said the requirement for people to wear masks outdoors in much of the country would be lifted from Thursday, with some exceptions, while an unpopular 11:00 pm Covid curfew will be scrapped on June 20, 10 days earlier than initially planned.

June 16, 2021 / 07:21 PM IST
File image (Image: Reuters)

File image (Image: Reuters)

France on Wednesday said it was ending the obligation to wear masks outside and would bring forward the lifting of a nighttime curfew, as Covid infections fall and the country's vaccine drive picks up.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said the requirement for people to wear masks outdoors in much of the country would be lifted from Thursday, with some exceptions, while an unpopular 11:00 pm Covid curfew will be scrapped on June 20, 10 days earlier than initially planned.

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Mandatory mask-wearing outdoors and the curfew, which was put in place on October 30 and had at one point been as early as 6:00 pm, had begun to encounter growing opposition among the French public in the hot summer weather.

The curfew, which had particularly irked football fans gathering at night to watch Euro 2020 games in bars, will be lifted a day before the street music festival held annually in France on the longest day of the year.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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"The health situation of our country is improving faster than we expected," Castex told a press conference after a cabinet meeting.

Masks will still be required outdoors on public transport, in stadiums and other crowded places, he said.

The average number of new daily infections fell to 3,200 on Tuesday, France's lowest level since August 2020 and well below the upper limit of 5,000 cases President Emmanuel Macron had set as his goal late last year.

The slowdown in the spread of the virus in France has been contrasted with a new surge in cases across the Channel in England that has been blamed on the Delta variant.

France, which has trailed Britain in the vaccination stakes, is racing to get as many people immunised as possible to try ward off the spread of the variant on its territory.

Castex said the government aimed to have around 35 million people completely vaccinated by the end of the summer, representing a little over half of the population.

So far, 16.5 million people have been fully vaccinated.

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.
AFP
first published: Jun 16, 2021 05:30 pm

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