EXPLAINED: Who is entitled to free face masks in France

Face masks are compulsory in several public spaces in France, but for most people they are not free. Here's a look at who is entitled to free masks in France.

EXPLAINED: Who is entitled to free face masks in France
French President Emmanuel Macron swapped his tricoloré patriotic mask for a white one when visiting pharmaceutical group Seqens to show his support for innovative research on Covid-19. Photo: AFP

Face masks have become key in the French government's preventive strategy to curb the coronavirus spread in the country.

Across France, masks are compulsory both inside public spaces and on public transport, in secondary schools, high schools and in the workplace.

Piling onto the nationwide rules, hundreds of local authorities have issued rules on mask-wearing outside too, with nearly a dozen big cities – including Paris, Nice and Marseille – introducing blanket rules that mean anyone leaving their home must wear a mask.

Some have complained that, due to the increasingly strict rules on mask-wearing, the government should make masks free for everyone.

'Uncomfortable but vital' – Why three quarters of French people support tough mask rules

While capping the price of face masks, the government has said it will not make them free – bar few exceptions.

According to a new government decree, these groups are entitled to free masks;

  • People on complementary health insurance (CSS) or State medical aid (AME) who received masks by post at the end of July;
  • Vulnerable people likely to develop severe forms of Covid-19 can pick up free masks in pharmacies on medical prescription. The government previously published a decree detailing who qualifies as “vulnerable” (people aged over 65 with diabetes, cancer patients, HIV patients, people on dialysis etc).
  • Anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19 and who has a medical prescription;
  • Anyone identified as living in the same household as someone with the virus.

Fabric, surgical or filter – what are the rules in France on mask types?

Certain groups also benefit from free masks through their job;

  • Employees who are required to wear a mask at work are not themselves responsible for purchasing these masks, their employer is (only during work hours, except for vulnerable people who are to receive masks for their commute to and from work). Anyone who works in a shared indoor workplace must now wear a mask at work – for more details on the rules, click here.
  • Public health workers and social workers get their masks from the government.
  • Doctors, dentists, medical biologists, midwives, nurses, and health personnel working with Covid-19 PCR tests have the right to 24 masks per week;
  • Pharmacists, physiotherapists, medical technicians, medical physicists, pharmacy assistants and laboratory technicians have the right to 18 masks per week;
  • Hearing care professionals, dieticians, therapists, opticians, speech therapists, orthoptists, chiropodists, prosthetists and orthotists, psychomotor therapists, chiropractors, osteopaths and psychologists have the right to 12 masks per week.
  • Home helps and carers
  • Service providers and equipment distributors

Covid-19 patients and medical professionals receive one-use surgical masks or filter masks, but the masks sent out to low-income families are washable fabric masks.

There's no pattern option though, so if you want to pimp up your mask then you might have to pay out.

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Property taxes, food and tunnels: 6 essential articles on life in France

From tax hikes to the price of food, air conditioning and the unexpected things that lurk beneath the streets of Paris, here are 6 essential articles for life in France.

Property taxes, food and tunnels: 6 essential articles on life in France

As the inhabitants of Paris, one of Europe’s most densely populated cities, walk along the Champs-Elysées or Rue de Rivoli, they might be entirely unaware of the extensive underground world that exists below their feet.

Paris has a huge network of underground spaces that hide some very unexpected things (as well as the entirely prosaci Metro).

Skulls, beer and a ‘cathedral’: Discover the secrets of underground Paris

From cheese and garlic to berets and sex, taxes and striking, France is heavily loaded with cultural stereotypes – and most of them are only partly accurate.

This is us, busting more myths.

Myth-busting: Are these 12 clichés about France actually true?

France warned that companies might have to reduce energy this winter as Russian continues to reduce its gas supplies to Europe.

The government has already begun work on an energy-saving plan, with more measures to come in September.

And it’s not the only country thinking along these lines – from limits to heating and air conditioning to turning off the lights and taking off ties, here’s how countries around Europe are cutting their energy usage.

Air-con, lights and ties: How countries around Europe hope to avoid blackouts this winter

Although householders in France are relatively fortunate when it comes to rising bills, there is one notable exception.

Towns and villages across France have been raising property tax rates for second-home owners – with many areas voting for the maximum 60 percent increase.

Tax hikes of up to 60% for French second home owners

As we’ve stumbled onto money matters, let’s consider the cost of living. France has many temptations to woo visitors and foreign residents: its scenery, history, the lifestyle, the food and the drink.

While some things here are more expensive than elsewhere – we’re looking at you, second-hand car dealers – and the taxes are notoriously high, what about the cost of groceries and wine? How do they compare? We do something that looks a lot like crunching the numbers…

How expensive is food and drink in France?

But, enough of all that seriousness. It’s silly season, after all. Prominent French scientist Etienne Klein has had to apologise for claiming this was the latest astonishing picture taken by the James Webb Space Telescope, when it was – in fact …

French astronomer apologises for ‘stellar’ photo that was really . . . chorizo

Some people take things far too seriously.