1,400 French communes require masks are worn in street

More authorities are issuing orders daily during peak tourist season

10 August 2020
By Brian McCulloch

Mayors as well as prefects in France now have the ability to impose the wearing of masks in the streets and other places in their communes.

It is estimated that 1,400 have already done so, with more following suit every day.

From Monday, August 10, Paris joined the list with compulsory mask wearing in some streets and other areas where there are crowds. The Hôtel de Ville (city hall) says it has a team studying the situation which will react quickly to impose further restrictions where necessary.

Prefects can also issue decrees ordering the wearing of masks, and occasionally this has led to mayors and prefects being in opposition to each other.

There is no fixed time limit on the decrees but many have been imposed for the peak tourist season. They are likely to be renewed if the measure is judged useful.
Fines vary from €38 up to €135, with the highest fines imposed by decrees from prefects.

Read more: Masks mandatory in Paris’ 'highly visited' areas

Most decrees say children over the age of 11 must comply with the measures.

Areas where mask wearing is compulsory in the street or market are marked with signs, and usually, policing is carried out by municipal police, with reinforcement from national police and gendarmes.

Almost all the decrees cover the busiest shopping streets or market squares in towns, or in holiday areas, promenades and other places where large groups of tourists gather.

Among the first towns to impose the wearing of a mask were 69 towns in Mayenne, where there was a worrying spike in Covid 19 cases in July.

But because the number of towns and cities affected is changing all the time, with different hours and rules for each, it is not possible to give a definitive list.

Read more: More French cities make masks mandatory amid public support

In Brittany the old port of Concarneau, which has narrow streets popular with tourists imposed mask wearing between 10h00 and 22h00 from July 21, and Quiberon, which imposed mask wearing around the station and passenger port.

Saint-Brieuc also was an early adopter, and the prefecture of Côtes d’Amor made masks mandatory in open air markets across 70 communes.

Saint-Marlo uses a town crier to inform the population of mask wearing rules, and Quimper imposed mask wearing from 9h00 to 19h00 until the end of August.
Holiday resort La Turballe also ordered compulsory mask wearing in crowded streets for the month of August.

In Normandy Cabourg and Caen moved quickly to issue orders, and visitors to Mont-Saint-Michel have to wear masks under a decree which runs to the end of September. Mers-les-Bains, Eu, Tréport, Yvetot, Honfleur, and Etretat have also imposed mask wearing.

Read more: How do I know if I have to wear a mask in street in France?

In Nouvelle Aquitaine, La Rochelle, Ile de Ré, Bayonne, Biarritz, Ciboure, Anglet and St Jean-de-Lutz were the first tourist towns to require masks in some streets. On the Landes coast, Soorts-Hossegor, Mimizan, and Biscarosse followed. Dax has imposed mask wearing and it is likely that people climbing the Dune de Pilat will have to wear masks, as will people in some Bordeaux streets and parks, with a decision due to be made this week.

In Dordogne, mask wearing is compulsory at the market at Sarlat.

In Haute-Garonne mask wearing is compulsory in all open markets and in some parts of the city of Toulouse.

Both Orléans and Tours on the Loire river imposed mask-wearing in some areas, with the measures in Tours a result of Covid clusters in the town. Amboise near Tours acted for the same reason.

In the southeast, it is now compulsory to wear a mask in some streets of Nice, Marseille, Saint Tropez, Carpentras, Argeles-sur-Mer, Grau-du-Roi, Vauvert, Vence, St Laurente-du-Var, Menton, Mougins, Saint Céaire-sur-Saigne and Biot.

Up in the mountain areas, the wearing of masks is compulsory over the whole of the department of Haute-Savoie for all open-air events. Towns like Annecy, Megève, Chamoix, Annemasse, Albertville and Thonon-les-Bains have decrees covering crowded streets.

Crest in the Drôme département made masks compulsory after three Covid cases in the town, and at Aubenas in the Ardèche a mask is needed in all markets.

Up north, near the Belgian border, it is now compulsory to wear a mask in Lille and the surrounding conurbation, with the restriction extending to all pedestrian streets, streets with a 20 kph speed limit, parks, river banks and café terraces when you are not eating or drinking.

Valenciennes has imposed mask wearing for all markets, and Abbeville for all public events.

Northern sea-side towns of Touquet and Fort Mahon have mask-wearing decrees.

Towns in northeast which have mask wearing measures include Epinal, Gérardmer, and Florange.

As well as Paris, it is already compulsory to wear a mask in Sceaux, one of the communes in Paris’s southern suburbs.

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