Face masks will be mandatory in ski stations and on ski lifts in France this winter, as a precaution in case the health situation worsens in the coming months, the prime minister has confirmed.
Jean Castex made the announcement on November 6, during a trip to Haute-Savoie, with the rules set to come into force from next week.
Masks will be required in queues for ski lifts and in ski lifts, such as télécabines ‘eggs’ or cabins.
The health pass will also be required if the national incidence rate rises above 200 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
This threshold was set “because [ski stations] welcome the public from all over”, Mr Castex said.
The prime minister said the measures aimed to “guarantee a dignified season” after a very difficult year in 2020, when ski lifts nationwide were closed.
Ski stations will also be able to choose whether to impose stricter rules, such as obligatory masks outdoors, in outdoor ski lift queues, or in high-traffic areas.
Once people are on open ski lifts, they will be able to remove their masks if they prefer.
Mr Castex described the rules as “a good balance, given that we have good levels of vaccination”. He said: “It guarantees the health situation for skiers and the restart of economic activity."
In the past few days, the level of incidence in France has risen above 60. Yet, the latest figures show that a total of 76.1% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine.
Read more: Covid: As daily cases reach 10,000, can France avoid a fifth wave?
As the rules for masks are confirmed, some companies in France have responded with products designed to make mask-wearing easier on the slopes.
Filtering neck warmer
The BandO² is a neck warmer and mask combined. It is intended to help skiers wear a mask without having to use an impractical, separate piece of fabric that is not adapted to skiing conditions.
Manufacturers Drapo claim that the fabric – made with 85% polyester and 15% elastane – filters at 94%, and remains effective up to at least 50 washes.
It comes in a range of designs and costs €15 for children’s sizes and €18 for adults.
This attachment by 3DN aims to make it easier to apply and wear a normal disposable mask while wearing normal ski goggles and gloves.
The attachment sticks to your normal goggles using an adhesive included in the product, and simply holds the mask in place instead of your ears.
This means you can keep your ears covered, and do not need to take off your goggles or hat to remove your mask.
It costs €29.50.
Neck warmer and disposable filter
Similar to the BandO², Buff has created a neck warmer with a pouch that holds a disposable filter. Buff says that the filters, sold separately, offer a surgical level of protection and bacterial filtration of 99%.
The warmers are also made with 95% plastic material from recycled bottles.
The neck warmer costs €21.95, and a pack of 30 filters costs €15. There are adult and children’s sizes available.
Multilayer neck warmer
Outdoor sports company Raidlights has also created a neck warmer and mask combination.
Dubbed the ‘Mountain Mask’, it is made in Ardèche with light polyester. It has two filtering layers, and filters up to 75%. It comes in two colours and sizes.
It costs €20, but the website is currently having a sale, with some available for €8.
The brand Allkov has also created a range of sports-friendly masks that have strong elastic designed to fit around ski helmets or goggles.
It says that filtration is guaranteed, and that its ‘smart membrane’ allows breathing out but does not allow particles to be breathed in.
It comes in a range of colours and costs €19.95.
French brand Lebonair has created what it calls a ‘Complete Protection’ mask, which is a neck warmer with an integrated mask inside.
It says it has been tested up to 100 washes according to AFNOR standardisation norms, and offers protection both against the virus and temperatures down to -5C.
Made in France, it is available in nine different colours and costs €29.90.
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