As the winter holidays begin in parts of France, including major cities like Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand and Lyon, updated Covid-19 regulations, particularly the banning of artisanal cloth masks, have come into force in schools. Authorities will initially make suitable masks available to children whose families cannot afford them.
New measures to slow the spread of Covid-19 infections came into force in French schools on Monday 8 February.
The most significant change concerns the wearing of masks, obligatory for all school children over the age of 6 since last October.
Under the new regulations, only category 1 masks, those which filter 90 percent or above of air-borne particles, can be worn in French educational establishments.
The decision follows last month's recommendation from the Public Health Authority that homemade cloth masks should be banned. Such face coverings filter no more than 70 percent of particles, according to authorities.
Not all cloth masks are equal
The new rules do not ban all fabric masks outright, but concern only those made at home. There are several brands of category 1 fabric masks available, clearly recognisable by a logo which indicates the level of filtration, and the number of times the mask can be washed and re-used.
The new regulations do not specify any penalties for the families of children who arrive at their schools equipped with incorrect masks. The decision to admit students remains at the discretion of individual school principals.
Families have already been warned about the change. Many schools have promised to make suitable masks available at the entrance for an initial period. Families whose children repeatedly show up with incorrect face-coverings may have to be contacted directly.