Covid-19: where do I need to wear a mask?

President Macron has declared that he would like masks to be mandatory in all enclosed public spaces from August, but what are the current rules?

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Generally speaking, mask-wearing is still recommended by the government at all times where you cannot respect physical distancing, ie. keeping around one metre from other people, however there are specific rules for certain situations.


The rules on wearing a mask on public transport are crystal clear in France: you must. On buses, trains, planes, ferries, trams etc, masks must be worn at all times and for the duration of the journey. This also includes taxis, minicabs and Ubers. Anyone breaking this rule could be fined €135.

This is the same in transport hubs such as airports, train stations or bus stations.

Culture, tourism and religious buildings

The wearing of masks is similarly obligatory in cinemas, theatres and museums that have reopened, with the same fine in place for breaking the rules.

However in cinemas, a protocol by the National federation of French cinemas, approved by the government, states that you do not need to keep the mask on once you have sat down in your seat.

Since May 23, when places of worship officially reopened in France, wearing a mask has been mandatory for everyone over the age of 11.

Cafés, restaurants, bars

The rules here are more fluid. Strictly speaking, all staff should wear a mask and customers should wear a mask when entering any establishment and should keep it on until they are seated. In practice, though, this does not always happen. The rules around wearing masks on terraces are even more fluid, and most people tend not to.


For the moment, the decision as to whether customers have to wear a mask in a supermarket is taken by the supermarkets themselves. Some supermarkets are insisting upon it while others are leaving it to their customers to decide.

At work

The general rule at work is that masks are required if it is not possible to put in place sufficient physical distancing due to confined space. Each worker is meant to have at least four square metres if no masks are required.

Outdoor public spaces

Some local authorities have local bylaws on the wearing of masks at certain times and in certain places, especially where there are large crowds, however obliging everyone to wear a mask outside was ruled to be inappropriate by the Conseil d'Etat.

Recently, French doctor Jérôme Marty told news channel BFMTV that wearing a mask on a beach would serve no purpose but that they should be worn in shops.

What will change after August 1?

President Emmanuel Macron said in a televised interview yesterday (July 14) that he strongly wished to see masks become obligatory in all "enclosed public spaces" from August 1.

However, the government is yet to clearly define what constitutes the kind of “enclosed public space” in which a mask must be worn, and has also yet to clarify what the penalties will be for non-mask wearers.

The official website simply defines public establishments as “buildings into which external poeple are admitted” whether or not admission is free, upon payment, limited or on invitation. In other words, spaces that are easily accessible to the public, as opposed to ones restricted to employees.

Related stories:

Masks to become obligatory in indoor public spaces in France

Macron’s July 14 interview: masks, racism and 3D printing

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