France requires faces to remain uncovered in all public spaces: public highways, public transport, shops and shopping centres, educational establishments, post offices, hospitals, clinics, courts, government buildings, etc.
"No one shall, in any public space,wear clothing designed to conceal the face.” Act of 11 October 2010 (in force as of 12 April 2011)
What does the law say?
No one shall, in any public space, wear clothing designed to conceal the face. (Article 1 of the Act of 11 October 2010) The following are still permitted: • Protective clothing for the face justified on medical grounds; • Protective clothing for the face justified on professional grounds or used for sporting activities; • Protective clothing required by law (e.g. helmets for users of two-wheeledvehicles); • Clothing or accessories not intended to fully conceal the face (e.g. sunglasses, hats). Where does it apply? In all places open to the public: first and foremost the public highway but also public services (courts, hospitals, post offices, town halls, administrative offices, etc.), shops and shopping centres, restaurants, cinemas and theatres, museums, sporting venues, etc. The prohibition also applies to professional or organisations’ premises open to the public. The French national police force and gendarmerie are responsible for ensuring security and public order. This entails ensuring that the law is being enforced and addressing public order offences and breaches of the peace. The police and gendarmerie must be able to verify the identity of all persons.
To whom does it apply?
To all persons on French territory, irrespective of gender, age and nationality.
How is it punishable?
• For a person who conceals his or her face in any public space: A maximum fine of €150 may be imposed. • For a person who compels another person to conceal their face: That person shall be liable to a punishment of one year’s imprisonment and a fine of €30,000. When the person compelled is a minor, these punishments shall be doubled. To compel a woman, regardless of her age, to conceal her face is an affront to her dignity. It also contravenes the principle of gender equality.
Does this prohibition restrict freedom of religion?
The Act complies with Article 10 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789, which states that: “No one may be disturbed on account of his opinions, even religious ones, as long as the manifestation of such opinions does not interfere with the established Law and Order.” This prohibition does not aim to restrict the exercise of freedom of religion in places of worship open to the public
To get more information on the law click here