The wearing of masks in certain crowded areas of Paris became compulsory on Monday August 24, in a move to try and curb the infection rate of the city, after a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases, yet this has left some tourists confused.
A detailed list of more than 100 mandatory mask-wearing areas was put into force, with one of the areas being the very popular Montmartre district, having very narrow streets and also the banks of the River Seine.
However, the list excludes other very touristic areas, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysees and the large shopping area of Les Halles.
Dominico Ditoma, a French tourist visiting the Montmartre area with his family claimed that “It’s not clear at all. We’re tourists so we don’t know in which zones we’re required to wear a mask.”
He added that whilst they assume that it is for most of the touristic areas, “there are no signs so it’s quite unclear”.
Another tourist was also uncertain on the policy, saying “I’ve heard about it, it starts this morning, but I don’t know about the zones, I don’t know how to get informed.”
The new policy states that anybody aged 11 or over faces a €135 euro fine if they are caught not wearing a mask in the zones that one is required to so.
Paris City hall official Audrey Pulvar defended the relatively complex mask setup, stating that the map is currently “evolving” and was formed on the basis of criteria such as people’s ability in the space provided to comply with social distancing rules.
Speaking on BFM TV, Pulvar claimed that this is the main reason as to why “in certain streets, parts are affected by the measure and parts are not”.
People have also been required to wear face masks at all times in all closed public spaces in France since July 21.
France has recently suffered from a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, reporting more than 1,900 daily new cases every day since August 18.
The confusion surrounding these measures puts into question whether such mandatory mask-wearing could work in other countries, particularly in such an over-populated country like Malta.
With narrow streets being common throughout the Maltese Islands, and several tourist destinations being right next to residential areas, it could make sense to impose such a measure.
However, it would definitely require plenty of supervision and would have to be regularly monitored by health officials in the most crowded areas of the country.
It is also necessary that people wear their face masks properly, not leaving their nose exposed or lowering it down to their chin, as such measures would prove to be needless if this is the case.
The zones also need to be clearly marked so that the confusion that tourists are having in Paris will be avoided.
The most touristic and crowded areas, such as Valletta, Sliema, Buġibba, Saint Julian’s and Victoria, Gozo could all benefit from this measure.