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Masks, speed limits, meat labels: 16 changes for residents in March

Key changes this month in France include a possible end to the vaccine pass, clocks springing forwards for summer, speed limit changes in some departments, and more

Four photos, one with a hand changing the clock, a closeup of a cigarette pack, an 80 speed limit sign, and a man taking down his mask outside

Changes in March 2022 include clocks springing forwards, a rise in cigarette prices, changes in speed limits, and a possible end to wearing masks outside Pic: Zephyr_p / fongbeerredhot / PHILIPIMAGE / Radowitz / Shutterstock

Each new month brings a series of shifts in France. We recap some need-to-know dates for March 2022.

An end to masks and the vaccine pass?

This week has brought a relaxation of mask-wearing rules inside venues where vaccine passes are required, including restaurants, cinemas and museums. 

However, masks must still be worn in all public transports and in spaces where you do not need to show a pass, such as shops and workplaces. 

Health Minister Olivier Véran has also told RTL: “We think that by mid-March, hospital and epidemic conditions will allow us to remove masks [in all] inside [spaces] and to get rid of all, or partly, the vaccine pass.”

Read more: Covid France: Three more changes to rules come into force today

Read more: France on track to relax vaccine pass rules within weeks

Clocks spring forward

On Sunday, March 27, at 02:00, it will become 03:00. This means everyone will lose an hour of sleep, but there will be more daylight in the evenings, as spring and summer approach.

Change in speed limits

From March 1, the department of Haute-Saône is reverting its departmental speed limit to 90km/h, up from 80km/h, on at least 438km of its 3,407km network. 

The town centre of Lyon is to reduce its speed limit to 30km/h from March 30, in a bid to improve road safety and reduce pollution. The biggest routes outside the centre will retain their 50km/h speed limit.

More private speed limit tracker vehicles

Private speed limit tracker vehicles are coming to the Pyrénées-Atlantiques in March, after having already arrived in Creuse and Saône-et-Loire in February.

Read more: Are there any clues to identify private speed camera cars in France?

Read more: France’s private speed camera cars: Where are they, who drives them?

Read more: Private speed camera cars to arrive in Dordogne in April 2022

Last few days to sign up to electoral register

If you are eligible to vote in France, you have until March 2 to sign up to the electoral list online, or March 4 if you are doing so at the mairie or by letter.

Read more: French presidential election: Voter registration deadline approaches

Meat origin labelling in restaurants

From March 1, 2022, all meat served in restaurants will require labels showing its origin. This will apply to all out-of-home dining spaces, including restaurants, school and business canteens, and in hospitals.

This measure previously only applied to beef, but now applies to pork, poultry, lamb, and mutton. The aim is to support French farmers and improve the quality of meat in public dining spaces.

Car advert rules

From March 1, adverts for new cars must display the vehicle’s CO2 classification, and must contain a message suggesting eco-friendly alternatives to private vehicles. 

Adverts across all types of media (TV, radio, print media, internet, etc), must feature at least one of the following: "For short journeys, give priority to walking or cycling", "Think about carpooling", "In everyday life, take public transport". 

Brands have three months to comply, with sanctions to be applied from June 1.

Rise in cigarette pack prices

From March 1, some cigarette packet prices are set to rise. For example, packets of Maya Green Spirit will rise by 10 centimes, from €9.70 to €9.80.

More inflation bonuses paid

The €100 inflation bonus for households who earn less than €2,000 net per month will continue to be rolled out, with pensioners the last on the list to receive it. 

Most pensioners will have received the money in their bank accounts by the end of February, but some recipients will have to wait a little longer, and can expect to receive it in March.

Restaurant vouchers

Exceptional rules on the use of restaurant vouchers (tickets-resto) have been extended from February 28 to June 30. 

Under these rules, the daily usage limit is €38, and vouchers can still be used at the weekends. Previously, the limit was €19 and weekends were not permitted.

Holiday vouchers

If you have holiday vouchers that expired on December 31, 2021, you now have until March 31 to exchange them to extend their validity. You can exchange paper vouchers, digital vouchers, and sports vouchers for new ones that will be valid for the next two years.

Macron bonus: Final deadline

Until March 31, employers can pay the Macron bonus, which was introduced in 2018 to respond to the gilets jaunes' demands on purchasing power. 

This tax-free bonus can reach €2,000 per year for employees whose gross income does not exceed €4,809.45 per month. In 2021, almost four million employees received an average bonus of €506.

End of the ‘winter truce’ (trêve hivernale) on evictions

The trêve hivernale winter truce – which means tenants cannot be evicted, which has been in place since November 1, 2021, will end on March 31.

However, this does not apply to illegal squatters, or to evictions from the marital home ordered by a judge in the case of domestic violence or divorce proceedings. In these cases, the eviction will happen immediately (or as mandated by the judge), regardless of the winter truce.

Read more: Woman rents out French second home for few weeks, tenant refuses to go

Pensions alimentaires

On March 1, a new public maintenance service (pensions alimentaires) will be set up by the government to facilitate payments. 

The service will act as an intermediary between the two divorced parents, allowing the Caisse nationale des allocations familiales (Caf) and the Mutualité sociale agricole (MSA) to deduct the sum directly from the ex-spouse’s account for maintenance payments decided by a judge. 

For the time being, only divorces with children are concerned. The system will be extended to all other types of separation and divorce on 1 January 2023. In France, 30% of maintenance payments are not paid or are paid irregularly.

Read more: ‘€100,000 care home bill for father in France I do not know’

Last month to sign up to Parcoursup

Sign-ups to the university selection platform have been open since January 20, and are set to close on March 29. Candidates will then have until April 7 to confirm their applications. The first admission phase will begin on June 2.

Young person contracts begin

From March 1, ‘Le Contrat d’Engagement Jeune’ will enable young people without training or a job, and aged under 26, to receive training, financial support, and easier access to employment.

It replaces the ‘Garantie Jeune’ and can last from 6-12 months. It is supported by local Mission Locale organisations, or employment agency Pôle Emploi.

Related articles

Ten changes and updates for residents in France in February 2022

Tax, homes, cars: 19 changes in France for residents in January 2022

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