Face masks remain mandatory in Spain for the time being, also on the beach

by Lorraine Williamson
face masks

MADRID – Despite the fact that we have been used to face masks in the streets of Spain for a year now, we are not getting rid of them yet. A new law tightens the requirement for wearing masks – including on the beach and in other outdoor areas. 

Until now, according to the letter of the law, wearing a face mask was required in outdoor areas if a distance of 1.5 meters could not be guaranteed. Although in practice it turned out that almost everyone always wore a mask. With the new law governing de-escalation, interpersonal distance will no longer be decisive for whether or not to wear masks. This is what the Spanish newspaper El País writes, based on the publication of the new rules in the Government Gazette (BOE) on Tuesday. 

Face masks in any public place 

The law requires the mask to be worn in any public place, regardless of distance from others. Until now, as the government also states on its website, it was mandatory to wear a mask on public roads or in other outdoor areas if there was a distance of less than five feet from others. In practice, however, many autonomous communities turned out to apply this measure more strictly and always require it. 

“People six years and older are required to use masks (…) on public roads. Also in outdoor areas and in any enclosed space for public use or open to the public,” it said on Tuesday in the published article. The standard regulates prevention and hygiene measures, regularisation of transport, medicines, public health standards or matters with which the capacities of the health system can be guaranteed.  

Until the end of the health crisis caused by Covid-19 

The new rules are valid indefinitely and as long as the health crisis continues. “Until the government declares, in a reasoned manner and in accordance with scientific evidence, the end of the health crisis caused by Covid-19,” the text read. 

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Same rules throughout the country 

Since last summer, when the de-escalation phase of the alert state had begun, the autonomous regions started adapting the use of face masks on their own initiative based on the government decision. Some took their own initiative. For example, by coming up with exceptions for people who want to sunbathe on the beach or at outdoor pools. 

Under the new law, a face mask must be used in all outdoor areas. This obligation applies to all autonomous regions. They are therefore no longer allowed to come up with exceptions. 

Face masks new blow for tourism? 

El País fears that this rule that could force people to wear a face mask while lying by a pool or on the beach, even if they are at a safe distance from others, will be a new blow to tourism. Tourism is one of the sectors already most affected affected by the pandemic. 

The new law does state that the obligation does not apply to people who cannot comply with it for medical reasons. Nor is it required for people who exercise outside, in case of force majeure or necessity or when, due to the nature of the activities, the use of the mask is incompatible with it. 

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