IN DETAIL: When and where is it compulsory to wear a mask in France?

Face masks are now compulsory in France in a variety of situations - at pain of a hefty fine. Here is a guide to the new rules.

IN DETAIL: When and where is it compulsory to wear a mask in France?
Breaching mask rules in France could net you a hefty fine. Photo: AFP

When do the changes come into effect?

The new rules came into effect on Monday, July 20th, and run until further notice.


When first announcing the new rule, president Emmanuel Macron said he wanted it in place by August 1st, but that timetable was sped up by Prime Minister Jean Castex amid concern at the rising number of Covid-19 cases in France.

READ ALSO How worried should we be about the rise of Covid-19 cases in France?

What do the rules say?

The new rule is in addition to the rule which is already in force for public transport, which says that all users of public transport (including taxis and Ubers) must wear a mask or face a €135 fine.

The new rule makes it compulsory for everyone over the age of 11 to wear a mask in any indoor public space.

This includes shops, banks, libraries, retail centres, covered markets, government buildings and offices, museums and tourist sites – in short any establishment that receives members of the public.

The list also includes places of worship, hotels (in communal areas), covered sports facilities and temporary structures such as marquees.



For people working in communal offices, the government has said employers can decide on a case-by-case basis.

Cafés, bars and restaurants have a protocol in place – although enforcement of it has varied depending on the business – which requires customers to wear a mask when they enter and remove it only when seated at a table. Trips away from the table, for example to the toilet, will require a mask and sitting at the bar or counter is not allowed.

Any business or tourist site which is not in an enclosed space – for example the Eiffel Tower or the Monet gardens at Giverny – is within their rights to continue to require visitors to wear masks and to refuse entry to anyone who does not.

The government has not made masks compulsory on the street, but several local authorities have imposed their own extra rules on masks on the street and in outdoor markets.

Why the rule?

After a strict two-month lockdown France has gradually reopened and eased most of its lockdown restrictions, but there are concerns that this is leading to complacency around hygiene precautions such as social distancing and infections are beginning to rise.

Health authorities have flagged an increase in cases in several areas and called for increased vigilance.

READ ALSO MAP These are the areas of France of concern to authorities as Covid cases rise

As schools have broken up and people headed off on summer holidays or to visit relatives there is also a concern that the general 'holiday mood' is encouraging people to forget vital rules on social distancing – such as stopping the custom of the double cheek kiss greeting.

It is hoped that the stricter mask protocol will also remind people of the need to be careful.

France's new Prime Minister Jean Castex said the decree will be published on Monday or Tuesday, and be effective immediately. Photo: AFP

Will there be a fine for people who don't comply?

Yes, people not wearing a mask in enclosed public spaces face a fine of €135. If you are caught without one twice within 15 days, the fine can increase to €1,500.

Health minister Olivier Véran said that he hopes fines will not be necessary and people will wear the mask. 


He told France Info: “As soon as we tell the French that it is necessary to wear a mask, that it is indispensable in a closed environment, the French will apply it in large numbers.”


Member comments

  1. I think you will find that M. Veran went to French Guiana (“La Guyane”). French Guinee became independent from France (as Guinea, or “La Guinee”) in 1958, some time before the Internet was invented.

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French doctors to stage more strikes in February

General practitioners in France are planning another industrial action that will see doctors' offices closed as they call for better investment in community healthcare.

French doctors to stage more strikes in February

Primary care doctors in France announced plans to strike again in February, after walkouts in December and over the Christmas-New Year holidays in early January.

The strike will take place on Tuesday, February 14th, and it comes just a few weeks ahead of the end-of-February deadline where France’s social security apparatus, Assurance Maladie, must reach an agreement to a structure for fees for GPs for the next five years.

Hospital doctors in France are largely barred from striking, but community healthcare workers such as GPs are self-employed and therefore can walk out. 

Their walk-out comes amid mass strike actions in February over the French government’s proposed pension reform. You can find updated information on pensions strikes HERE.

Previous industrial action led to widespread closures of primary care medical offices across the country. In December, strike action saw between 50 to 70 percent of doctor’s surgeries closed.

READ MORE: Urgent care: How to access non-emergency medical care in France

New concerns among GPs

According to reporting by La Depeche, in the upcoming strike in February primary care doctors will also be walking out over a new fear – the possibility of compulsory ‘on-call’ hours.

Currently, French GPs take on-call hours on a voluntary basis. Obligatory on-call time for primary care doctors was scrapped in the early 2000s after GPs mobilised against the requirement.

However, representatives from the Hospital Federation have called for it to be reinstated in order to help relieve emergency services.

Additionally, GPs are calling for Saturday shifts to considered as part of their standard working week, in order to allow for a two-day weekend.

Striking primary care doctors are more broadly calling for actions by the government and Assurance Maladie to help make the field more appealing to younger physicians entering the profession, as the country faces more medical deserts, and for working conditions to be improved.

Those walking out hope to see administrative procedures to be simplified and for the basic consultation fee – typically capped to €25 – to be doubled to €50.

In France patients pay the doctor upfront for a visit, and then a portion of the fee is reimbursed by the government via the carte vitale health card.