When is it obligatory to wear a mask in France?

France has not generally made mask wearing obligatory in public spaces – however there are places where it is mandatory. We explain.

18 May 2020
By

Wearing a mask has been obligatory on public transport since May 11, the start of the first stage of deconfinement. This includes trains, tramway, the metro, buses, planes and in taxis if there is no plexiglass between the driver and the passenger.

In taxis and driving services such as Uber, the individual driver can decide whether to make mask-wearing obligatory for passengers - and it is strongly recommended by the government to do so.

In you enter public transport without a mask you can be refused access and fined €135 by transport security agents.

It has also been mandatory to wear a mask in train stations and airports for anyone aged over 11 since May 11.

In shops, wearing a mask is recommended. It is not obligatory by national rule but individual shopkeepers and store owners can decide to only let people with a mask enter. The shop Décathlon, for example, has made a mask obligatory for anyone over 12 years old. Hairdressers can also make it an obligatory rule of access to their services.

At work, wearing a mask is not mandatory as a general rule but recommended when social distancing is not possible.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has asked companies to “equip their employees”.

At school, teachers are obliged to wear a mask. In secondary school, it is compulsory for students when social distancing cannot be respected.

It is not recommended for pupils in primary school (age 6-11) and not necessary for children in maternelle (age 3-6) or in crèches (under three years old). But teachers and child professionals must wear a mask around them.

Some mayors have also made mask-wearing obligatory in public space if social distancing (ie leaving space of one metre between yourself and others) is not possible. In Nice the mayor, Christian Estrosi, made a decree for this and people found not wearing a mask when social distancing is not possible risk a fine of €35. This is also the case in Levallois-Perret, on the outskirts of Paris.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has asked Parisians to wear a mask in public spaces although it is not obligatory. 

In Bordeaux, the mayor Nicolas Florian made it compulsory to wear masks on the quays, busy streets, at markets, parks and gardens, and any other place where the one metre social distancing rule is not possible.

Legally the mask is only obligatory when social distancing cannot be respected.

The Ministry of the Interior, Christophe Castaner, said that while after May 11 "the wearing of masks will be recommended in public spaces and compulsory on public transport, there are no plans to make it compulsory in all public spaces". "This would go beyond the recommendations," Health Minister Olivier Véran added.

Earlier in April, the mayor of Sceaux (Hauts-de-Seine) saw his decree to impose the general wearing of masks in public spaces rejected. The Conseil d’Etat, a high French court which advises on laws and acts as a supreme court, said “mayors cannot, on their own initiative, take other measures to combat the health disaster”.

Stay informed:
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France

Get news, views and information from France
You have 2 free subscriber articles left
Subscribe now to read unlimited articles and exclusive content
Already a subscriber? Log in now