Joggers and cyclists in Paris must use mask in crowded areas

Joggers, cyclists, exercisers, and electric scooter users in Paris are required to wear masks during their physical activity if they come into contact with pedestrians and are unable to stay physically distanced, it has been confirmed. 

14 August 2020
A woman running while wearing a mask. Joggers and cyclists in Paris must use mask in crowded areasRunners, joggers and cyclists should wear masks in Paris (and other cities including Lille) if they cannot physically distance during the activity
By Connexion journalist

The clarification comes one week after masks became mandatory for everyone aged 11 and over in hundreds of high-traffic areas in the capital where physical distancing is seen as difficult to ensure - such as busy walkways, outdoor markets, antiques markets

Only those with a medical certificate proving they cannot wear a mask are exempt.

Joggers, runners, those doing exercise, cyclists and electric scooter users - especially if travelling at slow speeds in crowded areas near pedestrians - will all be at risk of fines if they do not wear masks, a police source confirmed to news website LCI this week.

The main factor is the speed at which people are travelling and the risk of coming into contact with others, as slow movers are thought more likely to be able to spread the virus to others - especially in busy areas with many pedestrians. It includes riding next to a walking pedestrian, or if stopped on the street or pavement.

Those on motorised scooters, and vehicle drivers, will not be fined if not wearing a mask.

Fines for people who do not comply are €135 each offence.

Initial confusion

The initial decree had not specified this level of detail, and had been described as “mainly aimed at pedestrians”, leaving some confused.

Later in the week, police issued the following statement: “Users of slow transport methods such as bikes and electric scooters are not concerned by the obligation [to wear a mask], as long as - while riding - they do not run the risk of contact [with other people] in the roads they are using.

Somewhat confusingly, the statement added: “Only pedestrians must wear a mask, including if they are doing sport [or exercise], and will therefore be subject to checks.”

Overall, the rules suggest that everyone - whether a pedestrian, jogger, cyclist, or electric scooter user - will be required to wear a mask if they are in close contact with other road or pavement users, and especially if they are in crowded areas and moving at slow speeds (compared to a vehicle) and are unable to physically distance themselves.

Other cities and rules?

Joggers in Lille are also required to wear masks in zones where they are obligatory.

In contrast, in Mayenne (Pays de la Loire), where masks are mandatory in all public outdoor spaces, joggers and others doing exercise are not required to wear a mask.

Read more: 1,400 French communes require masks are worn in street

The rules come despite the World Health Organisation (WHO) strongly advising that people do not wear a mask when doing physical activity.

On its website, the WHO says: “People should not wear masks when exercising, as masks may reduce the ability to breathe comfortably.

“Sweat can make the mask become wet more quickly which makes it difficult to breathe and promotes the growth of microorganisms. The important preventive measure during exercise is to maintain physical distance of at least one metre from others.”

Again, the major deciding factor appears to be whether the person undertaking exercise is able to maintain physical distancing measures during their activity.

One journalist from news source 20 Minutes reported seeing a jogger being stopped by police next to the river in Paris, and warned for not wearing a mask. Police suggested to the jogger that they should run closer to the road, further away from pedestrians.

An earlier statement from the French ministry of sport said: “Wearing a mask makes it difficult to practice many sports. However it is justified in certain situations where distancing measures cannot be strictly adhered to.”

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