Paris (hooly News) – The authorities are preparing people’s minds for local obligations to wear a mask outdoors: it could be imposed in areas where the Covid-19 epidemic is on the rise, a decision already taken on Friday for the metropolis of Lille.

“The prefects will now be able by decree to extend the obligation to wear a mask to open public places. This decision can be taken locally, depending on the evolution of the epidemic in each territory”, announced in a tweet the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, Friday.

The prefect of the North then announced that wearing a mask would be compulsory in the public space from Monday in “a number of areas” of the European metropolis of Lille. In Perros-Guirec, some areas are also concerned, said the Côtes d’Armor prefecture in turn.

The prefect of Mayenne had already taken the same decision on Tuesday for four municipalities.

At the municipal level, Biarritz, Bayonne, Saint-Malo and Orléans imposed Thursday the wearing of the mask outside, in their center or the markets. Le Touquet will apply this measure from Saturday in its city center.

Authorities warn of increased circulation of the coronavirus, nearly three months after confinement ended, and as summer encourages festive outdoor gatherings.

They justify the mask on the outside by the evidence that accumulates to say that Covid-19 is transmitted via fine droplets suspended in the air exhaled by patients (the “aerosols”), and not only via postilions.

– Sustained circulation –

During a trip to the Yvelines on Wednesday, Mr. Véran had encouraged the wearing of a mask outside: “If you are in a street where there are several people going for a walk and you are not sure you can keep your distance, I recommend it “.

This position contrasts radically with the message of the authorities at the start of the epidemic. In a context of a shortage of masks, they ensured that this object was intended for caregivers and patients and “useless for anyone in the street”, in the words of the Director General of Health (DGS), Jérôme Salomon.

The discourse evolved over the weeks (and scientific knowledge), until it ended in an obligation in all closed public places, on July 20.

“The management of the epidemic in France is serious,” said Prime Minister Jean Castex on Friday, visiting Ain in the midst of a heat wave.

In recent weeks, the public authorities have been increasing the number of warnings.

“The circulation of the virus is sustained with an increasing number of daily cases (+1,346 over the last 24 hours, according to the DGS on Friday).

– “Low noise” evolution –

Thursday evening, the health agency Public Health France (SpF) also noted a “marked increase in the number of new cases, 54% compared to the previous week,” particularly among 20-30 years. “

However, some scientists are calling for these figures to be put into perspective.

“The situation in France in no way justifies saying that there is a worsening,” said Yonathan Freund, professor of emergency medicine at Pitié-Salpêtrière in Paris.

“If there are 1,000 cases per day, it is because the virus is circulating, and this is normal. The epidemic is under control, if we are ever overtaken, we will know it very early,” continued this doctor, who protests against an excess of “alarmism”, even if his position is in the minority.

“We are not in a second wave (but) in the pursuit of an epidemic with more or less low noise”, had also qualified Mr. Véran, Wednesday on LCI.

INSEE, she said on Friday that the number of deaths observed in France since May was slightly lower than that of the last two years, including in regions most affected by the coronavirus.

But on the economic front, the epidemic and its consequences, including containment, continue to wreak havoc: in the spring, France experienced the sharpest decline in its activity since at least 1949, with a plunge in gross domestic product (GDP) of 13.8%.