EXPLAINED: How do Paris’ new mask rules work?

From Monday morning new rules are in place in the Paris region around wearing masks in the street. The full details of the new rules were announced over the weekend and they're a bit complicated. Here's how it all works.

EXPLAINED: How do Paris' new mask rules work?
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo at the Bassin de la Villette, which is now one of the mask zones. Photo: AFP

From Monday, August 10th at 8am it is compulsory to wear a mask in the street in certain parts of Paris and its surrounding suburbs. This is in addition to the nationwide rule that makes masks compulsory in all indoor public spaces.

Paris joins the long list of French towns and cities that have imposed similar rules on mask-wearing in the street.

MAP Where in France is it compulsory to wear a mask in the street?

Which parts of Paris?

This is where is gets complicated.

Announcing the rules, the Paris police préfecture stated that masks should be worn in “certain very crowded zones”. This was then followed by each of the five préfectures concerned – Paris, Seine-Saint-Denis, Hauts-de-Seine, Val-de-Marne and Val d'Oise – releasing their own lists of streets, squares and markets where masks would be compulsory.

The rule is done on a street-by-street basis, so if you are on one of the streets listed then you must wear a mask even if there are no crowds and you have the street to yourself.

Where is gets complicated is there are dozens of streets on the list for each département and, particularly in central Paris, sometimes it's just one part of a particular street that is a mask zone.

While some of the locations are obvious, such as the Seine walkways, the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin and all open-air markets, others are not.

There may be plans underway for signage in the future, but that's not there at present so it seems like Parisians will be spending a lot of time consulting maps over the next few days.


For the full list of Paris streets, click here.

For the full list of Seine-Saint-Denis streets, click here.

For the full list of Val-de-Marne streets click here.

For the full list of Hauts-de-Seine streets, click here.

The préfecture of Val d'Oise will apparently be publishing a detailed list later in the week, but from Monday, the masks are only compulsory at open-air markets in the département.

Paris police have also clarified that this applies to everyone on the street, not just pedestrians, so joggers, cyclists and scooter riders will have to mask up too.

Any other places?

The existing national rules are still in place too, which means that all indoor public spaces are also mask zones. So that includes public transport, shops, government offices, libraries and leisure centres.

Health minister Olivier Véran also advises that a mask should be worn anywhere where it is not possible to physically distance from other people and French public health ads also suggest wearing a mask while visiting vulnerable people such as elderly relatives.

Are there any exemptions?

In common with the national mask rules, the new Paris rule applies only to people over the age of 11.

What happens if you're caught without a mask?

There is a €135 fine in place for people who are not wearing a mask when they should be.

However police say for the first two weeks they will focus on giving advice and information about the new rules before they start issuing fines.

Which is a good thing, as we think it might take us a while to learn the list of 102 Paris streets, squares and markets where masks are now compulsory. And that's before we even get out to the suburbs . . .


Member comments

  1. Assume this also applies to joggers (is that still allowed) ? so would have to wear a mask while running, too.

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‘Public opinion is ready’ – These French senators want to legalise marijuana

A group of 31 French senators of the Socialist, Green and Republican parties have come together to write a statement calling for the legalisation of marijuana in France.

'Public opinion is ready' - These French senators want to legalise marijuana

France is known for having some of the strictest laws regarding marijuana consumption in Europe – while simultaneously maintaining one of the highest rates of cannabis usage in the EU. 

A group of French senators – coming from the Socialist, Green and centre-right Les Républicains parties – are trying to change those laws, and have come together to call for marijuana to be legalised in France.

The group of 31 co-signed a statement published in French newspaper, Le Monde, on Wednesday, August 10th.

In the statement, the senators promised to launch a ‘consultation process’ to submit a bill to legalise marijuana “in the coming months.”

The proposition was headed by Senator Gilbert-Luc Devinaz, a member of the Socialist Party, and gained support from the party’s leader, Patrick Kanner.

READ MORE: The long and winding road towards changing France’s cannabis laws

A report by the Assemblé Nationale, which was published in May 2021, estimated that nearly 18 million French people (more than 25 percent of the population) had already consumed marijuana, and that an additional 1.5 million consume it regularly.

This, coupled with the 2019 finding that nearly one in two French people (45 percent) said they were in favour of legalisation, according to a survey by the French Observatory of Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT), helped strengthen the senators’ position.

“Public opinion is ready, the legislature must act,” they wrote.

Their senators argue that legalising marijuana in France will allow the authorities to better protect French citizens, saying that legalising would not require “minimising the health impacts of cannabis consumption” but rather would allow regulation similar to “public policies for tobacco, alcohol or gambling.”

For the group of 31 senators, the benefits of legalisation would involve a better control over the “health quality of products consumed,” “curbing trafficking in disadvantaged areas,” developing large-scale prevention plans,” and finally the taxation of cannabis products and redirection of law enforcement resources. Decriminalisation – in their opinion – would not be sufficient as this would simply “deprive authorities the ability to act,” in contrast to legalisation. 

READ MORE: Is France moving towards legalising cannabis for recreational purposes?

“In the long term, new tax revenues would be generated from the cannabis trade and from savings in the justice and police sectors”, which would make it possible to mobilize “significant resources for prevention as well as for rehabilitation and economic development,” wrote the senators.

In France, the conversation around cannabis has evolved in recent years – former Health Minister (and current government spokesman) Olivier Véran said to France Bleu in September 2021 that “countries that have gone towards legalisation have results better than those of France in the last ten years,” adding that he was interested in the potential therapeutic use of cannabis.

Currently, the drug is illegal in France. Previously, it fell under a 1970-law of illicit drug use, making it punishable with up to a year prison and an up to €3,750 fine.

However, in 2020, the government softened the penalties, making it possible for those caught consuming it to opt for an on-the-spot fine of €200.

There is also an ongoing trial involving 3,000 patients to test the impacts of medical marijuana usage, particularly with regard to pain relief.