these French who will discover the faces of their colleagues on Monday

In the open space, at the counter of a bar-tabac, on a production line … On Monday, many French people will discover the faces of their colleagues, the mask is no longer mandatory in closed places. Hairdresser, baker, technicians… They tell their joy or their fear at the idea of ​​lifting the mask.

Get out your best lipstick. From Monday, wearing a mouth cap in closed places is no longer mandatory, with the exception of transport. At school, in shops, private companies and other government services it is no longer mandatory to wear a face mask all day long.

For the first time since September 2021, many colleagues will have the pleasure of discovering their facial features, facial expressions and other facial expressions. A real relief for many, a source of fear for others.

“I’ve never seen the faces of some colleagues”

“It was about time!” Basile and Kanda, technicians from the IT department of a large telecom group in Paris, who work in the same open space, chorus. “There’s no denying it, we’re still breathing better without it, and then we’ll finally be able to see the faces of our colleagues…”, they joke at the microphone.

“The last time, Kanda says, I met a colleague I often work with without his mask and walked past him without saying hello… In fact, I absolutely wouldn’t have recognized him without his mask!” “It’s going to be really weird,” they agree.

Manon was also hired a year and a half ago by a large Paris company. At that time, in his open space, all his colleagues were wearing the mask. On Monday, the 24-year-old is having fun discovering the faces of many colleagues. “It will be very strange, there are some whose faces I really had never seen before,” she told, before adding, “and yet I’m not that new!”

Many professionals who interact with clients see this relaxation of protocol as a blessing. For them, the mask was a daily burden. “I can’t wait to ‘see’ my customers again!”, for example, delights Élodie Schneider, manager of a bakery in Deyvillers near Épinal (Vosges), who no longer intends to carry him in her business.

The mask, a social barrier

According to her, wearing a mask has undeniably changed her relationship with her customers. “It wasn’t like it used to be, she confides to “Since the mask, I noticed people didn’t stick around like they used to. They are more distant, suspicious and don’t take the time to talk anymore.”

A masked worker on a production line at the Volvic factory in May 2021.
A masked worker on a production line at the Volvic factory in May 2021. © Thierry ZOCCOLAN

“It’s crazy, but if I didn’t see the expressions on people’s faces, it was missing,” continues this baker. “I think we’re going to feel naked,” jokes this business manager with 4 employees under her care. “It’s going to make us funny, it had become such a habit… But we’ll appreciate it. It was hard to bear in our work: we are often hot by the oven, with the heat, we almost feel suffocated” .

A baker without a mask in October 2016 in Paris.  (illustrative photo)
A baker without a mask in October 2016 in Paris. (illustrative photo) © LIONEL BONAVENTURE

In many hair salons, the impatience is the same. “It’s going to make our job so much easier!” says Kevin, 31, a hairdresser in Levallois-Perret. “It was unusable with the hair dryers, the brushes, the products. We got hot quickly, our work is still quite physical.”

“But the best thing is to be able to see the customers again,” the 30-year-old continues. “For cuts and brushing it was really problematic. We sometimes had to ask them to remove it for a few minutes. the person. But there we did not see it. (…) And at the same time it will be very strange to remove it, will we have the impression of making a mistake”.

“We will finally be able to reconnect with the paraverbal,” analysis for Johanna Rozenblum, a clinical psychologist in Paris specializing in behavioral therapies. “It will do us a lot of good to be able to find the emotions on the other person’s face. For about two years we have done without a whole section of communication, but many messages go through reading subliminal signs. Emotions are characterized by facial expressions . They bind us to the other”.

Many codes have changed in two years

For this behavioral specialist, “we will now have to respect everyone’s temporariness because removing the mask will be difficult for some people.” For many, removing your mask is experienced as an exposure. Some of my patients explained to me that they saw the mask as a kind of protection. In shy people, it can help to hide a blush, an embarrassment, an embarrassment… It’s kind of a filter and makes people less vulnerable.”

“A lot has changed in two years,” continues Johanna Rozenblum. For her, “some very intimate social codes may not come back right away. People aren’t used to showing their faces, kissing each other… it will take a while to get used to them.”

“It will be very difficult for young teenagers to remove them,” confirms Olivier Staderdi, father in Castres, in the Tarn, who is concerned about his 12-year-old daughter. “It’s hell, she’s totally panicked and literally terrified to take it off on Monday. She’s in 5th grade now and when she arrived at her college last year, the mask was already mandatory. In fact, she’s scared for the eyes of others.

“The mask was part of the clothing”

“My daughter’s classmates don’t really know her face, as she had to wear the mask every day in class and during breaks for months. She never saw the mask again. The faces of some of his classmates, his teachers,” explains. from this father. “So there she is terribly afraid that they will judge her, that they will find out what she really looks like. For example, she has a complex of her skin. The mask was a protection for her and she will have to take it off at night. “.

Students in a classroom in October 2021 in Berlin (illustrative photo)
Students in a classroom in October 2021 in Berlin (Illustration photo) © Tobias SCHWARZ

“Having to reveal and assume her imperfections overnight is a bit brutal for her,” continues this concerned father. “At that age, the self-image is very complicated. I hope she will manage to get through this stage.”

“What is certain is that the children and teenagers of this generation do not have the same social life as we do. The mask was part of their clothing.” For example, her 6-year-old daughter has fully embraced this anti-covid protection. “Even though it was hard to put her on at first, she made the decision. Now she doesn’t think about it at all, she puts it on automatically and keeps it easy, even in places where it’s no longer required” .

“Here’s the end of the tunnel”, welcomed the Union of Local Businesses (U2P), which unites craftsmen, small traders and the liberal professions. “We are going to resume normal rules in business,” Labor Minister Elisabeth Borne also summed up, recalling that it “would obviously be necessary to continue to apply hygiene rules” such as hand washing, cleaning surfaces and room ventilation.

Jeanne Bulant BFMTV journalist