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France will consider returning to the mask as hospitalizations increase

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The Associated Press

Associated Press

Barbara Surk And Jade Le Deley

Nice, France (AP) — Tourism is booming again in France — and so is COVID-19. French authorities have "invited" or "recommended" people to return to the use of face masks, but have not been able to update the restrictions that scare visitors or revive anti-government protests.

Many people, from Paris commuters to French Riviera tourists, seem to welcome the light touch of the government, but there are also concerns that the necessary precautions may be needed. ..

According to government data, virus-related hospitalizations have increased rapidly in France over the past two weeks, with nearly 1,000 COVID-19 patients hospitalized per day. Our World in Data estimates that infectious diseases are increasing across Europe and the United States, but in France the proportion of people in hospitals is very high.

French government spokesman Olivia Grégoire said there were no plans to reintroduce national regulations that limit or set conditions for indoor meetings and other activities. ..

"French people are fed up with restrictions," she said on Wednesday on channel BFMTV. "We are confident that people will act responsibly."

In last month's French parliamentary elections, President Emmanuel Macron lost a majority in parliament and the government's previous vaccine. And the right and left parties protesting Macron's rules won the seats.

After the Prime Minister advised him to resume wearing masks on public transport this week, commuter Rafael Vertaldi said, "We need to deal with the virus, but live for it. I can't stop. "

Vertaldi, who was on the train in Bushy Saint Antoine in southern Paris, opposed the use of forced masks, but again with his mouth if the government requested. He said he would cover his nose.

Hasani Mohammed, a postal worker in Paris, did not wait for the government's decision. He wears a mask before his daily commute. He does not want to run the risk of being infected with the coronavirus three times, as his wife has recovered from surgery and has two children at home.

"I realized that a pandemic is not a thing of the past," Mohammed said.

Mask is controversial in France. Early in the pandemic, the French government suggested that masks were useless. It finally introduced some of Europe's toughest restrictions, including indoor and outdoor mask obligations that lasted more than a year, in addition to strict blockades.

On Tuesday, a court in Paris ruled that the French government had not been able to prevent the spread of the virus by stockpiling enough surgical masks at the start of the pandemic. The Parisian administrative court also ruled that it was wrong for the government to suggest early on that masks could not prevent people from becoming infected.

The government has lifted most virus restrictions by April, and foreign tourists have returned to French Mediterranean beaches, restaurants and bars by land, sea and air.

Meanwhile, French hospitals are suffering from long-term staff and funding shortages. Local authorities are considering new measures, including mandatory indoor masks in some cities, but nothing to curb economic activity.

French tourism experts expect rapid summer growth despite the virus. Americans will benefit from the weaker euro, and others will rediscover overseas travel more than two years later, which could exceed pre-pandemic levels. A more restricted year of existence.

In the French Riviera, a slow economic recovery began last summer. However, attendance at the rally was still restricted, and due to social distance rules and travel restrictions a year ago, most visitors to the area were French.

Nice tour guides and electric bike taxi drivers explained the joy of seeing foreign visitors again. During the repeated blockades in France, she transported essential workers and took people to hospitals for the care of older relatives and PCR tests.

Passengers currently biking from the United States, Australia, Germany, Italy, or later have hands taped to the barrier between the passenger and driver's seats. You can get the disinfectant. She said she was enthusiastically disinfecting her bike "like 2020" before every ride.

A retired couple from the UK visited France on their first overseas trip this week as the pandemic travel restrictions were lifted. They started with a cruise down the Rhone and ended in a few days in the Mediterranean, where the ship required a face mask.

"I was happy from start to finish," said Ross Lancy, who was in her husband Gordon and Nice. "Everyone is very happy to see you, everyone is really polite and kind to the visitors."

Sue Baker, who was traveling with her husband Phil and Lancy's , Says: She "feels like it was before 2020."

When asked about the possibility of a resurgence of French mask rules, Phil Baker said, "Masks are a bit uncomfortable, especially in the heat. ".

But his wife added, "If that means we can still go on vacation, we will put them back without hesitation." ..


Le Deley reported from Bushy Saint Antoine, France.