Coronavirus: Face masks allowed to go on sale in French pharmacies

Experts recommend widespread use during post-lockdown phase

Zoe Tidman
Monday 27 April 2020 13:50
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Owner of Louis Vuitton changes all perfume factories to mass produce hand sanitiser for free in France

French pharmacies have been given the green light to sell face masks during the coronavirus crisis.

The government added non-surgical masks to a list of products pharmacies are allowed to offer to the public in a decree over the weekend.

These masks made out of cloth – known in France as les masques grand public – are for use by the general population.

A government scientific advisory committee has said masks should be made available to everyone in France for the country to start relaxing its lockdown measures.

People in regular contact with the public should be prioritised in receiving this protective equipment, according to the Conseil scientifique Covid-19.

“Individuals wearing a mask in public places must be systematic during the post-lockdown period,” the committee said.

The new decree – signed by Olivier Veran, the French health minister – rules pharmacies can now sell ”non-medical masks made industrially and meeting relevant technical specifications”.

Mr Veran has previously told French radio he envisaged a basic mask would cost between €2-5 (£1.70-£4.30).

France has extended its lockdown until at least 11 May as it battles its coronavirus outbreak, which has seen more than 162,000 people infected with the virus to date.

People have been ordered to stay indoors unless it is essential, and schools have been shut to limit the spread of the disease.

Researchers have estimated the lockdown measures – which were introduced in mid-March – saved around 61,000 lives in their first month.

France has been one of the worst-hit countries in the world by the pandemic, with a death toll of 22,856 as of Monday, according to a Reuters global count.

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