Covid-19: the map of the departments where the mask on the beach is mandatory


MENU – In some coastal departments, the mask is strictly compulsory on the sand. In others, it is not. The measure is contested.

In La Grande-Motte (Hérault), last weekend, the police were out on the beach. The mission consisted – among other things – in reminding walkers that they should not forget to wear the mask, even with their feet in the sand. “People can take it off when eating or drinking. However, once they are done, they must put their masks back on. We do not verbalize them today on this subject, unless people refuse to comply.», Explains to Free noon the commander who then directs the operation. The regional daily describes the astonishment of walkers: “We have nothing against control, but this story of wearing a mask is abused”, react Mika and Rosalie, a couple from Lunel.

  • Where is it compulsory?

Each prefecture decides the rules. In some cases, the decrees concern the whole department, and therefore the beaches. In others, the regulations vary depending on the municipality. Finally, some prefectures have made exceptions in their decrees to leave the beaches accessible without a mask. We have scrutinized the prefectural decrees which concern the beaches, located in agglomerations, on the coast.

Once in the water, the mask is never compulsory. The sea is not legally part of the territory of a municipality, or even of a department, but of the public domain of the State, even if, over 300m, the mayor has police powers. Then there is an exception for individual sports, such as swimming. Finally, wet, the mask would be totally useless.

  • How effective is this obligation?

For Antoine Flahault, epidemiologist and professor of public health at the University of Geneva, wearing a mask on a beach, even crowded, is not justified by any scientific study. “The literature has not reported any case of contamination in these places since the start of the pandemic”, he says. “Outdoor aerosols are not contaminants, they are diluted in the atmosphere. On flat surfaces, the virus is neutralized by drought and UV rays ”, he believes. Only the direct route, someone who sneezes on us directly at less than 1.50m, could represent a risk. “But it is too theoretical to justify such bans. I am ready to change my mind if we present cases of clusters taking place on a beach. We could do test beaches, such as concerts in certain countries ”, he suggests.

  • In Spain, the measure caused controversy

In Spain, a new law was to be promulgated making the mask mandatory outdoors. Until now, it was only when social distancing was not possible. In some regions such as the Balearic Islands, the question of the beach immediately arose. “We are already in agony, with thousands of jobs and businesses at risk. And now they want to turn the beaches into open-air country hospitals ”, reacted José Luis Zoreda, vice-president of Exceltur, union of tourism professionals in the columns ofEl Pais. Finally, the Spanish Ministry of Health reversed its decision on Wednesday. But the regions retain the freedom to demand or not the mask on the beaches.

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