France makes masks mandatory in cultural venues, among other measures

It’s mask time again in France. The country’s health minister has unveiled a set of familiar health measures as Europe faces a fifth wave of COVID-19 cases.

One of the most important measures Olivier Veran announced on Nov. 25 in a televised address was that face masks would be again mandatory at all cultural venues starting Friday (Nov. 26).

France’s Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Castex tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week and several members of the government have been self-isolating.

Since the health pass became enforced on July 21, masks were no longer mandatory and were rather recommended in most theaters — although most exhibitors were still requiring it for people above 11 years old, said Marc-Olivier Sebbag, the spokesperson of France’s National Exhibitors Association.

The health card, which requires proof that you have been vaccinated or a negative test for PCR, will be required indoors in all public places, including public transport, schools, restaurants and shops. Veran said that the health card will be updated to include a second shot of vaccine beginning Jan. 15, while the PCR test won’t be valid for more than 24 hours.

Since Veran’s address, more than 1.2 million people have booked an appointment to get a third vaccine shot on the medical platform Doctolib, according to the newswire Agence France-Presse. According to the app TousAntiCovid, 87.9% have had two doses of the vaccine in France, while only 11% have received a third. According to the platform, there have been 36,787 additional COVID-19 cases in the past three days.

Recent increases in COVID-19-related cases in Western Europe have prompted governmental action to combat them. For 30 days, the Czech Republic declared a state emergency. This means that only 1000 recently vaccinated members can attend cultural events. Portugal will require masks in enclosed spaces starting Dec. 1. A digital certificate proving recent recovery or vaccination is required for entry to cinemas. Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands announced last week new restrictions.

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