Beginning in July 2020, the rules around where to wear masks in France have become increasingly complex and strict. In a bid to curb transmission of Covid-19 and avoid a dreaded “second wave”, French officials have passed emergency measures requiring everyone except young children to sport masks or cloth face coverings– in both indoor and outdoor settings.
This is true whether you’re a resident or a visitor. And beware: the fines for failing to comply are steeper than you probably think they are.
Confused about where you’ll need to wear a mask in Paris, and how to tell when you might be approaching such a place? Keep reading for all the latest details, plus a clickable map of Paris streets, markets, riverbanks, and squares where mask-wearing is currently required by law.
Indoor Spaces Where Masks Are Required in France
Until further notice, you must wear a mask or proper cloth face covering (not a scarf or bandana) in the vast majority of indoor places and public spaces in France, including in the capital:
—Museums and galleries, such as the Musée du Louvre, Centre George Pompidou, and the Musée d’Orsay, as well as smaller museums and exhibition spaces. You must keep your mask on in all areas, including lobbies, toilets, and gift shops.
Exceptions are usually made for onsite cafés and restaurants, but keep your mask on when you’re not at the table eating or drinking, or when your order is being taken.
–Indoor exhibition areas at popular monuments
—Shops, supermarkets, malls, shopping centers, and other indoor retail areas : Make sure to put your face covering on before entering the shop, and keep it on until you leave.
–Theatres, cinemas, and semi-enclosed “arcades” or covered markets
—Tourist information centers, airports, train stations, car rental offices, convention centers, and other indoor places of business or leisure
–Bakeries, take-out restaurants, and other indoor food retailers
—Common areas in restaurants, bars, and cafes (the bar, public toilets, and anywhere outside your table. Wear a mask as much as possible when ordering and when interacting with your server, too.
—Public libraries, government offices, and other indoor areas open to the general public and not covered above
Where Do I Have to Wear a Mask Outdoors in Paris?
As of early August 2020, you are required to wear a mask outdoors in over 100 crowded streets, outdoor market areas, and waterside thoroughfares in Paris, including along the banks of the Seine River and the Canal Saint-Martin.
While it’s unclear how long the strict new measures will be enforced in Paris, the city government has settled on a month-long period to begin, saying it may be extended. And it’s a reality Parisians are having to adapt to quickly.
Signs like the one below are prominently displayed in outdoor (and in some cases, indoor) areas where you’ll need to sport one, so look out for them. The notices read “Port du masque obligatoire” (Wearing a mask is obligatory).
And to play it safe, I recommend putting on your mask anytime you approach an area that looks crowded, sign or not. The French government is urging visitors and residents to wear one outdoors whenever it is difficult to maintain a distance of at least six feet/around 1 meter.
The new measures apply to the following streets in each district and arrondissement of Paris shown on the map below (and listed on the side panel when you click on the arrow icon at top left).
Please note that only pedestrians are required to wear a mask on the streets, market squares, and riverside quays above.
Cyclists, motorcyclists, and drivers or passengers in cars are exempt. However, you must wear a mask if you’re running or jogging through these streets/areas.
As you’ll notice, many more streets and areas in the heavily populated (and often crowded) northeast districts (18th to 20th arrondissements) have been flagged for the mask requirement.
Some have rightfully noted that certain high-traffic tourist areas, including the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, the Esplanade des Invalides, and narrow, tourist-heavy streets in the Latin Quarter such as the Rue de la Harpe, have not been included in the ordinance.
Authorities have said they may well expand the number of places and zones in the capital where masks will be temporarily required outdoors.
Where Do I Need to Wear a Mask Outdoors Elsewhere in France?
To see information on mask ordinances and requirements in other cities around France, including Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse and Lille, see this page.
How Much Can You Be Fined for Not Wearing a Mask?
This brings me to the next point, which is that you can be fined for not complying with rules and regulations surrounding masks.
This now applies to the global requirement to wear a face covering in all indoor public spaces in France, and to the more recently introduced rules for certain outdoor places (see section and detailed map above).
The current maximum fine that may be applied if you fail to don a mask or face covering in required settings is €135. Some police officers may first offer a warning, but it’s best not to count on it.
Who’s Exempt From Wearing Masks in France?
Currently, only children under the age of 11 are exempt from wearing masks in the places and settings detailed above. Some with health conditions such as asthma and respiratory disorders, as well as people who have or assist those with hearing disabilities, have (understandably) wondered whether plastic shields or visors are acceptable alternatives.
For the time being, however, France’s public health authority doesn’t permit the use of visors instead of masks.
Why is this the case? They argue that visors don’t adequately protect others from viral particles and aerosols that may escape from around the sides of the mouth.