Rules for wearing a mask at work in France

Wearing a mask is compulsory in offices from Tuesday, September 1

31 August 2020
By James Harrington

Masks will be compulsory in offices and other workplaces in France from tomorrow, Tuesday, September 1, as the country tries to control a spike in cases of coronavirus.

It comes as the government encourages the country back to work in order to fill a 11% hole in its budget.

Health officials have suggested that almost a quarter of new clusters have been linked to workplaces.

France imposed one of Europe's strictest lockdowns in March, which was gradually lifted from 11 May. The country has seen a sharp rise in cases of Covid-19 since July - and masks are already compulsory in enclosed public spaces, such as shops. Several cities have also ordered their use in busy outdoor areas.

Until now, however, the French government has only advised the wearing of masks at work when social distancing is not possible.

But, from September 1, face masks will be compulsory in all workspaces, except inside individual offices.

Read more: Mandatory masks in the workplace in France: FAQs 

The rules will apply to all offices or workplaces with more than one person, and any areas in which staff are likely to cross paths or come into contact with others. It will be up to the employer to ensure that all employees have access to face masks, although Employment Minister Elisabeth Borne has urged businesses to favour remote working wherever possible.

The rules will also apply to meeting rooms, corridors, changing rooms, and “open space” or open-plan offices. Masks will still be mandatory even if plexiglas or other dividers between workers are installed and must be worn when moving around inside the workspace.

It will be up to the individual business, workplace or office to enforce the rules. Any employee who refuses to wear a mask, or who does so improperly, can be subject to disciplinary sanctions enforced by their employer, Employment Minister Elisabeth Borne said.

Masks are also to be obligatory in colleges and lycees.

Read more: What are France’s red zones and vulnerable departments?

Read more: Anti-mask protest in Paris ends with mass fines

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