Why is it not obligatory to wear a mask in France?

Wearing a mask in France is not obligatory - except on public transport - despite recommendations from medical institution l'Académie de Médecine and the support of several mayors. We explore why.

Wearing a mask to protect against Covid-19 is compulsory on public transport and in “areas where social distancing rules cannot be guaranteed” - such as in enclosed shops.

Yet, the government has stopped short of making masks obligatory everywhere.

On May 7, when explaining his deconfinement plan, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said: “This is not the choice that we have made. When you are walking by yourself in the street or in the countryside, masks have no immediate benefit.”

Compulsory masks?

Yet, many among the scientific community have suggested that wearing masks should be compulsory.

On April 22, l'Académie de Médecine published a recommendation entitled “Aux masques citoyens! ('To your masks, citizens!', in an apparent play on words of the French national anthem, whose lyrics include “Aux armes citoyens!”).

The release said: “In the absence of an effective vaccine and medicine against SARS-CoV-2, the only way of fighting is to stop the spread of the virus from person to person.”

The group has said it is disappointed that the government has not made mask-wearing compulsory. It said that even though the virus appears to be offering some “respite”, it could still continue to spread and cause “several thousand new infections, including several ...

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