‘You can’t fool a virus’ – Many in France keep their masks despite rule change

Since Monday it has not been necessary to wear a mask in venues subject to the vaccine pass such as cinemas, museums and tourist sites - but many people in France say they will continue to wear it.

A face mask lies among the autumn leaves.
A face mask lies among the autumn leaves. Despite mask wearing rules being relaxed in France, many are keen to keep wearing them. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

Thomas Forrest works on a barge in Paris, hosting dinners, events and tours along the Canal de l’Ourcq. 

As hoards of mask-less passengers mount up the steel gangplank onto the deck, he has no intention of removing his. 

“I’m not really worried about the virus, but I’m 67-years-old. I’m wearing it to protect myself and to show respect to the customers. I want to preserve my health because no one else will do it for me,” he said.

In France, the obligation to wear a mask in spaces subject to the vaccine pass – such as restaurants, cafes, cinemas, museums and gyms – was lifted on Monday. 

It remains compulsory on public transport, and on indoor spaces that are not subject to the vaccine pass such as shops and workplaces. 

You find find a complete guide to the new rules HERE.

The health minister says that further relaxation of the mask and vaccine pass rules is likely by mid March, if certain conditions are met

We asked readers for their views and close to 70 percent of respondents to our Twitter poll said they intended to keep wearing masks in indoor spaces. 

“You can’t bullshit a virus,” wrote Jim Lockard. 

“Even though you are fully vaccinated, you can catch C19,” wrote another user called @WirtuallyYours. 

But others are not so sure. 

Augustin Ledoux, 22, works in a cinema in the French capital and is relieved not to have to wear a mask anymore. 

“I was so sick of wearing it at work. I’ve already have had three shots and caught Covid back in December so I am probably safe,” he said.

“Although my dad was quite ill, I don’t know anyone who has died from Covid so to me, the pandemic still does not feel very concrete.”

Ledoux said that most people who come to the cinema still wear masks when they enter, but remove them once the screening begins. 

Sitting at a bus stop, some 200 meters from the cinema, 32-year-old Clare, who works in communications, said she would no longer be wearing a mask in vaccine pass venues. 

“With the election coming up, I think removing the obligation is a popular move. No one really likes wearing masks and I don’t think anyone even knows if it is an effective way of stopping the virus,” she said. 

The World Health Organisation disagrees with her, stating that masks are a “key measure to reduce transmission”. Scientific studies in The Lancet, Nature, the BMJ and Stanford Medical School have all pointed to the efficacy of masks in stemming the spread of Covid.  

Where do I still need to wear a mask? 

You still need to wear a mask on all public transport, including long-distance trains (which remain subject to the vaccine pass). 

You also still need to wear one in all indoor spaces that do not require a vaccine pass, such as shops and most workplaces.

Local authorities reserve the right to impose their own mask-wearing rules. If you are unsure about the situation in your area, check with the local mairie (town hall) or prefecture. 

Likewise private businesses are legally entitled to enforce their own mask-wearing rules.

How can I access a vaccine pass venue? 

Remember that you can only enter a vaccine pass venue if you have:

  • Proof of full vaccination (including a booster if you are over 18)
  • A certificate of recent recovery from Covid – full details on how to get that HERE
  • An attestation de contre-indication – this is a certificate stating that you cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. This must conform to the French QR code format – full details HERE

Upcoming changes 

Masks will no longer be obligatory anywhere, apart from in public transport, from March 14th. 

The vaccine pass will also be suspended on this date, apart for certain medical establishments like elderly homes. 

Member comments

  1. I shall continue wearing my mask, as the article says, you can’t bullshit a virus and people are still dying by the plane load of Covid.

    When did it become acceptable to ignore so many daily deaths ?

    Ignorance is no excuse for staying safe.

  2. The one very good lesson we have learned from the UK and the US is that populism is no protection against disease. I know a lot of people behave as if Covid is a personal offence and will be happy to ditch masks and all other safety measures just as soon as it is allowed. Fine for them.

    We will keep using masks when out and about, watch, wait and see what comes next over the course of this year and the next winter. If there is no new, more dangerous variant and no major uptick in infections/deaths, then we will stop using the masks.

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