French President Emanuel Macron was unmasked — literally — on Tuesday.
Photographers caught Macron removing his face mask to cough, prompting speculation on social media about his health and whether he should be fined. France has a mandatory mask policy that carries a 135 euro ($159) fine for noncompliance.
In Clermont-Ferrand in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region in France on Sept. 8 to discuss equal opportunities, President Macron began coughing, according to a regional newspaper.
After clearing his throat, he continued his speech for a few moments, then took off his mask to cough, beckoning to an aide for some water and asking for a lighter mask.
Before drinking a glass of water, Macron said: “Sorry, I’m choking!”
French President Emmanuel Macron has been accused of not following coronavirus safety guidelines while giving a speech at a high school, eventually taking his mask off. pic.twitter.com/UMoEynVAX8
— DW News (@dwnews) September 9, 2020
During the speech, he also said: “I’m going to put on a lighter mask because I had absorbed something from the mask.”
Wearing a mask in enclosed public spaces has been mandatory in France since July 17.
Reacting to the report, a Facebook user named Amine Kahoul wrote: “Huge thought to workers, students and all those who have to wear the mask all day without even being able to remove it, risking a fine of 135 EUR even if it’s to eat a piece of bread or chocolate.”
Seeing Macron coughing into his hand instead of his elbow, Haylin Daisy Trevis posted: “And Mr. President, you didn’t cough inside your elbow.”
And ‘damien_mv’ wrote: “The dude takes off his mask to cough. The English have Mister Bean. The French have Emmanuel Macron.”
Naphtaline LeBon posted: “Macron chokes on his mask. Forced to take it off for a drink. 135 euros?
Macron specified that new measures to fight the virus will be studied at a health defense council on Sept. 11.
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