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 public urged to wear face masks again on public transport

With France in the middle of a new wave of Covid-19, the country's health minister has urged the public to once again wear face masks on public transport and in crowded spaces.

French public urged to wear face masks again on public transport

With cases on the rise again, French Health Minister Brigitte Bourguignon said she is “[asking] the French to put masks back on in transport” in an interview with RTL on Monday, 

For the time being, however, she stressed it was just advice, rather than an obligation, and masks have in fact been recommended on public transport since the legal requirement to wear them was lifted in May. 

However with France reporting over 50,000 daily cases of Covid-19 the government is clearly concerned by the current wave of the pandemic.

Bourguignon said that “we must protect ourselves and protect others,” adding that wearing a mask is “a civic gesture.”

She urged people to don their masks as soon as they see a crowded train or station.

READ MORE: Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

In addition to public transport, Bourguignon is also asking the French to once again mask-up in “all crowded, enclosed areas.”

Currently, masks are only required in hospitals, health centres and places that have vulnerable residents such as nursing homes. They are recommended in crowded spaces where it is impossible to practice social distancing.