In August last year, face masks were made compulsory in all public places – indoor and outdoor – in big cities across France.
The rule was maintained until Wednesday when Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that, thanks to daily coronavirus infections falling faster than anticipated, mask-wearing would no longer be compulsory outdoors.
But this doesn’t mean you can just leave your mask at home. Here’s why you’ll still need to make sure you have a mask or two with you.
Wearing masks in public indoor spaces, including shops, cinemas, theatres, cultural sites such as museums and galleries and offices remains compulsory for the moment.
Busy outdoor spaces
They are also meant to remain compulsory in stadiums, queues, open air markets, busy places, public gatherings.
Prime Minister Jean Castex said wearing a mask would remain the rule, “when we get together, when we are in a crowded place – a queue, in a market or in the stands of a stadium”.
Health minister Olivier Véran explained that there are various situations where you would have to wear the mask outdoors. “If you are in a queue on a crowded street then yes,” he told BFMTV. But “if you are in a park, in a square, wearing a face mask is not essential.”
This also includes the areas outside public buildings such as schools, universities and religious buildings during busy hours.
Pupils from primary age upwards will still need to wear masks inside schools, the government confirmed on Wednesday. But in a last minute change of heart the PM decided to end the obligation for youngsters to wear masks in the playground.
Face masks were made compulsory in public transport in spring 2020 and this rule is set to stay in place for the foreseeable future.
This includes bus stops, as well as indoor and outdoor train and metro platforms.
Bars and cafes
You will still see staff in bars and restaurants wearing masks.
All customers of restaurants, cafés and bars over the age of 11 must wear a mask at all times when moving around (such as going to to the toilet), both inside and on the terrace.
Masks can be taken off once you sit at a table, but should be kept on when ordering and paying.
Other outdoor areas depending where you are
Similarly to last summer, different areas in France are reporting variations in mask wearing. Rules are vary slightly in different parts of France. The préfecture of the Eure département, for example, included the surrounding 50m around train stations, shopping centres and religious buildings in its list of outdoor areas where mask-wearing is still required.
In Paris masks are required at outdoor markets and sales, in queues and in any gathering in a public place including platforms or bus stops on the public transport system and outside schools at pick-up and drop-off times.
Le port du masque en extérieur n'est plus obligatoire sauf dans certaines circonstances. Le préfet de Police précise les conditions d'allégement de l'obligation de port du masque en extérieur à Paris.
Plus d'infos ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/Kgcuh4h1Lp
— Préfecture de Police (@prefpolice) June 17, 2021
According to Le Parisien, in the Gironde département masks are still compulsory in groups of 10 people or more, whenever maintaining a minimum distance of two metres is not possible.
Other cities have opted for requiring masks on certain streets, making it difficult to work out exactly when you are supposed to wear one.
In Bordeaux, the police préfecture announced that masks would remain compulsory in two of the city’s busiest shopping streets – rue Sainte-Catherine and Porte Dijeaux – from 12pm to 7pm.
In Lille, shoppers should also keep their masks on outside in busy shopping areas.
In Loire-Atlantique, mask-wearing is compulsory in “busy pedestrian streets”, but the prefecture did not provide details on specific streets.
The préfecture of Landes, on the other hand, did specify certain streets in four towns, including Dax and Soorts-Hossegor, where they are still required.
In the centre of Montpellier, they are compulsory from Friday to Saturday, from 2pm til 7pm, while in the neighbouring town of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, masks must be worn outside between those same hours, every day of the week.