Covid rules are being tightened in several departments in mainland France which are the hardest hit by high Covid case rates.
The changes, to come into effect immediately, were announced by government spokesman Gabriel Attal yesterday (August 11) and mean masks must be worn in all indoor public venues, regardless of whether a health pass is required to enter, and a health pass will be required to enter larger shopping centres in these departments.
Departments affected have an incidence rate of Covid - meaning the average number of cases per 100,000 in the past week - above 200. Currently 32 departments are affected, mainly in the south of France, where almost all departments have an incidence rate of over 200.
Masks have not been required by national law in venues where the health pass system is in place since July 21, although many venues around the country continue to ask customers to wear them.
Mr Attal also said that in departments with an incidence rate of over 200, the health pass will be required for shopping centres of over 20,000m2. Previously, it had been up to local prefects to decide if the health pass was needed for shopping centres.
Between 150 and 200 shopping centres around France will be impacted by this change, said Gontran Thüring, general delegate of France's national shopping centre council the CNCC.
He said it will pose logistical issues.
"Several thousand security guards will have to be recruited in the middle of August to ensure these controls. Moreover, shopping centres are not at all on the same scale as nightclubs or restaurants: the largest centres receive 40,000 to 50,000 visitors per day," he said.
Affected departments are:
Bouches-du-Rhône, Haute-Corse, Corse-du-Sud, Alpes-Maritimes, Hérault, Var, Pyrénées-Orientales, Vaucluse, Gard, Aude, Haute-Garonne, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Rhône, Gironde, Ariège, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Hautes-Pyrénées, Hautes-Alpes, Haute-Savoie, Savoie, Drôme, Landes, Lozère, Territoire de Belfort, Seine-Saint-Denis, Charente-Maritime, Lot, Aveyron, Lot-et-Garonne, Val-de-Marne.
Paris has an incidence rate of 193, so is not affected but could be soon.
The map below shows the incidence rate of French departments as of August 11 (departments may change later - please see covidtracker.fr for the latest data).
Departments coloured red have an incidence rate of between 150 and 250, so some of those will be affected by these new rules.
The departments coloured dark red (or maroon) all have an incidence rate of between 250 and 400, and the purple departments have an incidence rate above 400.