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End of wearing a mask outdoors: “Some people continue to wear it for a feeling of security” – Coronavirus




For several months, a lot of scientific data has come out and has shown that the interest of the mask outdoors was not necessarily very convincing. A fairly solid approximation estimates that one in 1,000 covid-19 cases could be linked to outdoor contamination and probably in a close context. These data were used by the government to make his decision. In my opinion, it was an expected clarification: what was the point of maintaining a measure that is both restrictive, with the heat conditions of recent weeks, and controversial from my point of view, because it led to criticism of movements against a form of health authoritarianism?

The compulsory wearing of the mask in all places was a simple measure, understandable by all. And therefore easier to implement, right?

It was taken on the basis of an obsolete crowd psychology: it was believed that people were not able to understand that in some contexts it should be worn and not in others. And so, to anticipate this supposed ignorance of the population, we created a unique rule. It was hyper-simplification. The legitimacy of the measure was still very doubtful, more based on a logic of communication than of epidemiology or public health. We see, according to our data, that the French are very interested in these questions of covid-19 and infectious diseases. It is therefore positive that the government has come to terms with the idea that we can trust people and their ability to understand and distinguish the contexts in which we must wear the mask.

Jocelyn Raude, teacher-researcher in social psychology at the Rennes School of Public Health Studies. (Photo EHESP)

This decision to relax the obligation to wear a mask is it not also linked to a general relaxation of the French? who feel protected by vaccination ?

With the generalization of vaccination, we have indeed started to see a “vaccinated effect”, even if we have not yet published data on the subject: our observations really show a loss of respect for wearing a mask outside. . While inside, it maintains itself well.

The regions of northwestern France, Brittany, Pays-de-la-Loire, Normandy, are more cooperative than other regions

Despite the lifting of the obligation to wear a mask outdoors, this Thursday, many people kept it. Why ?

I saw it in Rennes where only half of the passers-by did not wear it. We can assume that there are two categories among the people who maintain it : those who have taken the habit of putting it on, no longer ask questions and have not paid attention to the news. And then those who are always worried, fear contamination and who wear it out of a sense of security. The mask has become a totem object: many people have put a symbolism in the protection that exceeds its real effectiveness in open places.

Can no longer wear the mask outdoors encourage the French to no longer use it indoors?

It’s the fear of professionals who defended the global obligation to wear a mask. But I think people understand that in closed places, the air is not renewed or is poorly recycled and that this can facilitate contamination. I also believe that there is a very strong social norm effect in these closed places, the gaze of the other weighs much more than in open places.

Do you see a mask wearing more respected in Brittany?

Overall, since the start of the pandemic, the regions of north-west France, Brittany, Pays-de-la-Loire, Normandy, have been more cooperative than other regions in a country which, overall, has shown itself to be fairly civic. Even when compared with Germany or Austria, countries that we usually think are disciplined.

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