France to distribute 40 million free face masks to its poorest people

France to distribute 40 million free face masks to its poorest people
Masks are now compulsory in indoor public spaces in France. Photo: AFP
The French government has announced that it will distribute 40 million free masks to people living in precarious conditions.

Health minister Olivier Véran announced on Wednesday that the state would begin distributing the free washable fabric face masks to 7 million of the poorest people in the country.

It comes after criticism that the new rules on compulsory mask-wearing in indoor public spaces placed an extra cost burden on the poorest families.

READ ALSO IN DETAIL When and where do you have to wear a mask in France?

Health minister Olivier Véran says the masks will be posted out. Photo: AFP

Many local mairies distributed free washable fabric masks back in May when France began loosening its lockdown, but the new state initiative focuses specifically on people living in poverty or precarious situations.

The masks will be posted out to seven million people who are in receipt of complémentaire santé solidaire, the complementary top-up health insurance that people living on low incomes are entitled to.

Véran said: “It is obvious that France will not leave people unable to wear masks.

“We are going to send 40 million washable masks for the general public, which can be used 30 times, in order to provide for seven million French people who are at the poverty line – beneficiaries of the complémentaire santé solidaire.”
People who are in receipt of the benefit do not have to register, the masks will be sent to them automatically through the post.
French newspaper Le Parisien calculated that a family of four, where both children are over the age of 11, would have to spend €228 a month on masks if they used disposable masks, or €96 if they used washable fabric masks.
The new mask rule came into force on Monday and makes it compulsory to wear a face mask in all indoor public spaces including shops, public transport, covered markets, banks and places of worship.
For the full list of places a mask is compulsory, click HERE.
Failure to follow the rule can earn you a fine of €135, although Véran says he hopes that people will wear them out of a sense of civic duty and wishing to protect the most vulnerable in society.


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