THIS UPDATED ARTICLE REPLACES THE ONE ORIGINALLY POSTED AUGUST 17th
A disconcerting rise in Covid-19 cases this month in Ile-de-France – especially Paris – has resulted in authorities announcing that masks will now be required outdoors in the entire city of Paris since 8am this morning. While wearing a mask in the middle of a heatwave in the city wasn’t fun, the city has finally cooled off a bit, and no one likes the alternative of going back into confinement if the hospitals start filling up again.
In France, once more than 10 in 100,000 inhabitants are tested positive for Coronavirus, the département passes from being “green” to “yellow”, and once there are more than 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants it is designated as a “red” zone. Ten days ago it was 62.1 in Paris, the only red department in metropolitan France (map below).
But things have just been getting worse. As of this morning, Paris is currently at 114.12 per 100,000 inhabitants, and there are multiple “red” departements including the French Riviera and Bordeaux (see map below).
At the moment the blip in positive cases doesn’t look so bad compared to what Paris experienced in the spring, but considering the city is practically empty of tourists and any Parisians who could escape to the countryside for the summer break, it means we’re all getting a bit too careless about social distancing. Especially younger Parisians.
That’s why, even though there are hundreds of new cases, the hospitals haven’t been inundated with patients needing to go on ventilators yet. According to health officials, the majority of those becoming contaminated in the past two weeks are mostly younger people who are less likely to need hospitalization. It doesn’t mean they can’t contaminate others who would need hospitalization, though, so the Mairie (City Hall) is remaining firm on the mask requirement for the sake of the elderly and anyone with compromised immune systems.
Now You Have to Wear Masks Everywhere in Paris, Even Outside
Click Here to Download the Map of the Zones in Paris Where Masks are Required Outdoors (PDF)
On August 17th Paris Municipal authorities declared masks would be required even outdoors in certain high-traffic zones (map above). However as of August 28th at 8am, masks are required EVERYWHERE in public, including parks and gardens.
To avoid the €135 fine, have a mask on as soon as you leave your apartment or place of work.
Some Exceptions to the Rule
Children under 11 years old, people inside their vehicles, cyclists, and joggers are not required to wear masks.
New Quarantine Requirements Between France and EU Countries
In other Covid-19 news, other European countries are starting to require testing or quarantine for anyone coming from France (or in some cases, from just the’s red zones), including the UK, making it increasingly risky to count on unrestricted travel across EU borders at the moment. Find the country-by-country details here.
Get Your Free Covid-19 Test
Since July 24th, Covid-19 tests via nasal swabs, aka “Les tests virologiques (RT-PCR), are available to everyone in France without a doctor’s prescription, and the usual €54 fee is either waived or fully reimbursed by social security (even if you’re not covered). That doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t have to be patient, as more people are trying to get tested right now. So you may have to wait in line, and in some cases wait a few days for results, but then at least you can be sure. You can find a list of clinics here (note that some require an appointment): https://sante.fr/recherche/trouver/DepistageCovid
The Silver Lining
Not all of the news is grim. Paris City Hall announced that the special permission for bars, restaurants and cafés to extend or create new sidewalk terraces (usually right on the street or in parking spaces), is being extended through June 2021. So that means we can feel a little bit safer eating in the fresh air (and if you don’t think anyone will sit outside in the winter, you don’t know Parisians…especially smokers who don’t have a choice).
I’ve been reading your blog for at least five years. Thanks so much for all the insight.
My wife and I are Canadians, from the Toronto area. We’re considering an anniversary visit to France this September. So much talk of “return to lockdown”, etc., and it’s impossible to discern what’s really happening from so far away. I don’t think you have the President’s ear, but I could be wrong. Any idea as to whether you’d recommend a visit at this point? We’re keen cyclists, and would take the opportunity to see a couple of the stages of the Tour de France in the Alpes, then cycle our way down to Nice and Corsica.
Are we crazy, or do we just love France too much? Thanks for any advice you care to share.
Crazy France Lover (also know as John)
Hey John! I wish I did have the President’s ear, lol! But seriously, I don’t know if he would be able to help you make a decision any more than I can.
Here is what I think about the logisitics: if you have the means (time and €€€) to weather any unexpected turn of events such as cancelled flights or ferries, staying longer than you’d planned because of a new lockdown, having to go into quarantine before or after your trip, or — worst case scenario — one or both of you catching Covid-19 and needing hospitalization, then I would say pack your masks and come on over! Having the finanacial resources and no time restrictions is the best bet in these uncertain times where things change from day to day. If you will lose your job if you get “stuck” in France for two extra weeks, or run out of money if you have to book a last-minute flight from Corsica if the ferry stops operating, then I wouldn’t risk it.
The only question left unanswered is: “should” you come to France during a pandemic when the infection rate has been going up again? Is it irresponsible to travel so far, where you’ll be encountering all kinds of people, and then possibly becoming asymptomatic carriers yourselves? Many of the smaller towns in the center of France really could use the tourism income, so some might argue it’s worth the risk. If you do come, I would avoid the big cities like Paris and Nice (well, try and avoid interacting with people in general as much as possible), and make sure you have travel insurance that covers Covid treatment.
I hope that helps!
Very concise. Thank you, Heather.
Can Americans fly to Paris?
Unfortunately, not yet. The United States is not on the list of countries whose residents are allowed to travel to France. From the website of the US Embassy in France: “Broad restrictions on non-essential travel from many countries outside the European Union, including the United States, remain in place. The French government has defined essential travel as entry by French citizens, residents of France, students, and spouses and children of French citizens.” (https://fr.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/)
As soon as it’s possible for Americans to travel freely to Paris, I’ll be sure to announce it here! 🙂
This article is the best summation of the current requirements in Paris that I’ve seen. Thank you! Mark
Merci, Mark. 🙂