The Time Press

France to ease Covid-19 protocol in schools, drop mask mandate outdoors

Paris: France will begin easing Covid-19 restrictions when schools reopen after the February holidays, Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer said in Paris on Friday. Students will return from the break on February 21 in the country`s school holiday Zone A and on February 28 in Zone B.

Primary schools will move from a Level 3 Covid protocol to a more relaxed Level 2, he added.

The wearing of face masks will no longer be mandatory in schools` outdoor spaces and the individual educational institutions` safety rules will be determined at school rather than at class level, Xinhua news agency reported.

Except for contact sports, students will be allowed to play sports indoors without a mask. Under the relaxed rules, students identified as close contacts of a positive Covid-19 case will only need to take one self-administered test instead of the current three.

“This system will make the lives of parents and teachers easier,” Blanquer said, adding that “the health situation in the country`s schools is improving, it is even better than what was expected”.

Citing an “improvement in the health situation,” Health Minister Oliver Veran said on Friday that the updated rules will no longer require people to wear face masks indoors from February 28.

However, the mask mandate remains in force on public transportation and in indoor areas where the vaccine pass is not mandatory. The French government has been gradually easing Covid-19 restrictions since February 2.

From February 16, people will be allowed to eat snacks and drink in stadiums and cinemas, and to drink while standing in bars and during concerts. Nightclubs are also set to reopen on that day.

On Thursday, the French Public Health Agency reported 153,025 new Covid-19 cases, a decrease compared to previous weeks. According to the agency, 79 per cent of the country`s population have already been fully vaccinated.

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