Covid-19: France ends obligatory face mask rule on public transport

As of Monday May 16th face masks will no longer be mandatory on public transport in France.

Covid-19: France ends obligatory face mask rule on public transport
Commuters wear masks and sit in a train in Paris, France. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

As of May 16th, transport users will no longer have to wear face coverings, a measure that was implemented in spring 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“From Monday, May 16, masks will no longer be mandatory for all public transport,” Olivier Veran said after a weekly cabinet meeting.

“Wearing a mask remains recommended,” he added, but the rule is “no longer appropriate” given the large drop in Covid cases recently.

The only place where face masks will remain obligatory in France is in medical settings such as at the doctors or in hospitals. People who test positive will still be required to self-isolate.

Exactly two years ago, at the end of the first lockdown on May 11th, 2020, then-Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that face masks would be mandatory on public transport to help stop the spread of Covid-19.  

For the last three weeks, Covid-19 cases have been falling in France. As of Tuesday, May 10th, 56,449 new cases have been reported with 1,167 people admitted to the hospital. Over the past week, there have been an average of 37,637 new cases per day.

Since the start of the pandemic, France’s Health Ministry has reported 146,979 total deaths from Covid-19, with 594 deaths in the last week. 

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France lifts all Covid-related travel restrictions as State of Emergency ends

From August 1st 2022 France is no longer under a State of Emergency, and this means several important changes for travellers.

France lifts all Covid-related travel restrictions as State of Emergency ends

France declared a State of Emergency in March 2020 because of the Covid pandemic, and that state has been extended several times.

From August 1st, however, that is officially lifted, although the government does retain certain powers to impose Covid travel rules.

The key difference for those travelling, is that the end of the State of emergency means the end of all Covid-related restrictions at the border.

Travellers to France – regardless of country they are travelling from – no longer need to provide either proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test, an attestation that they are free of Covid symptoms or any justification for their journey. 

Basically, travel goes back to how it was before the pandemic with no requirement for health-related paperwork. For full details, click HERE.

However, the government has retained the right to reinstate compulsory Covid testing at the border if the health situation changes – for example in the case of the emergence of a concerning new variant.

This can be done if the Health Minister has reported its necessity and “after the opinion of the competent scientific authority” and does not require a debate in parliament to impose, which means that new rules could be imposed quickly. The exact nature of the testing rules would depend on the severity of the new outbreak.

READ MORE: What are the new Covid rules as France scraps its State of Emergency?

The ability to bring in extra testing for those entering or leaving France – if the health situation requires it – remains in place until March 31, 2023. It can be extended from that date if parliament agrees.

The wearing of masks on public transport such as trains, taxis and the Metro remains “strongly recommended” but is no longer compulsory. Airlines have the right to impose mask rules as a condition of travel, so you should check with your carrier before you travel. 

Once in France the majority of Covid-related restrictions have now been lifted – you can read more here.  

Some countries still have requirements for vaccines or testing at the border, so if you are travelling from France, check with your destination country on their rules.