France has tightened its rules on face masks in recent days with single-use, ‘surgical’ masks being stipulated for all airline passengers. These single use, blue/ white or green / white masks have been criticised for being environmentally damaging, but the French authorities are enforcing the new rules according to travellers.
The French legislation says that: “All persons aged eleven or over shall, on board an aircraft engaged in public transport to, from or within the national territory, [must] wear the protective mask referred to in section I of Article 49 from the moment of boarding.”
The relevant article says that those protective masks must be EN 14683, namely “standard, single-use surgical masks”.
The rules started to be enforced at the weekend, with passengers flying back from Paris Charles de Gaulle to London Luton on an Easyjet flight being told they must change their existing cloth face masks for single-use masks. There were also reports of passengers who did not have single-use masks being asked to pay a 45 Euro fine before being allowed to board. Business Traveller contacted Easyjet for clarification of this. The airline said that it was ‘making investigations’ but it certainly was not Easyjet policy to levy fines.
Easyjet says that “The French authorities have passed legislation that requires all passengers over the age of 11 travelling to and from France by air to wear a disposable surgical mask and no other types of face masks will be accepted.”
“Easyjet is informing customers of this requirement via email, SMS and Flight Tracker ahead of departure. Customers are also alerted to the importance of checking any current travel requirements on our homepage and via our Know Before You Go information pages at easyjet.com.”
For its part, Ryanair merely says that ‘face masks are required‘ on its website, though it then refers passengers to the Travel Advice sections of government websites.
The new rules add to the confusion of travellers, with hastily-imposed quarantines on destinations and changing rules about the different forms required at each destination. There are also reports that the forms are not being checked as travellers arrive back in the UK, despite the fact that the government is considering adding France to its quarantine list because of the spike in cases.
Meanwhile Paris has made the wearing of masks outdoors obligatory in major tourist spots, including areas such as the hill of Montmartre and the river banks, after an uptick in cases. The rule applies to everyone over the age of 11 for at least one month, and failure to comply can result in a fine of €135.