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Face masks to remain compulsory until vaccine found, under ‘new normality’

Latest: Coronavirus in Spain figures (15 Feb)

Also read: Details of curfews & restrictions for all regions during new ‘State of Alarm’

The wearing of face masks will remain compulsory in Spain until a CoronavLatest: Coronavirus in Spain figures (9 Dec)irus (Covid-19) vaccine is found, with police having the power to fine citizens for not wearing them, the government announced on Tuesday.

It forms part of the measures within a new royal decree approved by the cabinet to establish the measures that will govern the ‘new normality’ after the ‘state of alarm’ and lockdown officially ends. The measures have been drawn up by Spain’s Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Transport.

Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa said that the measure regarding the wearing of face masks would continue after the country’s ‘state of alarm’ concludes on 21 June – and that it would ‘remain in place until we permanently defeat the virus, which is when we have an effective treatment or vaccine against it’.

Wearing face masks in Spain has been compulsory since  21 May for everyone aged over six in closed spaces (including shops and stores), as well as on the street and in public places, if a 2-metre ‘social distance’ cannot be maintained. It had initially been made compulsory to wear face masks on all public transport in Spain since Monday 4 May.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez arriving at the Spanish Congress on 20 May 2020 for the ‘state of alarm’ debate and vote. (Congreso.es)

During the ‘new normality’, wearing face masks will also remain in force on public transport, as well as for passengers in private vehicles unless they live in the same household as the driver.

Although not compulsory for very young children, it is still ‘recommended’ for those aged between three and five.

ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain figures (9 June)

When the ‘state of alarm’ ends and the final phase of the government’s four-phase plan of relaxing the lockdown restrictions also ends, the rule of wearing face masks will remain in place – with a fine of up to 100 euros for non-compliance — although the security distance will be reduced to 1.5 metres.

Illa said that the new regulations will come into force around 10 days before the country reopens its borders to international tourists from 1 July.

50% of Spain has now moved to Phase Three in the government’s four-phase de-escalation of lockdown plan.

We’ve published all the key rules and measures regarding the four phases in a separate report, together with the current ‘phase status’ for each region and province. The fully updated report can be found here: Lifting of lockdown in Spain – full details of all phases for all regions.

Salvador Illa, Spanish Health Minister, during a press conference on 9 June 2020. (Pool Moncloa : Borja Puig de la Bellacasa)

ALSO READ: Face masks compulsory in closed spaces and outside, if not at 2-metre distance

Illa also announced on Tuesday that, ‘if the state of alarm is lifted as expected, there will be unrestricted freedom of movement within the country.’

The royal decree also plans for new safety measures at workplaces and education centres, such as reorganising work stations or ensuring staff rotations to avoid overcrowding.

Special measures will also apply to the hospitality industry and restaurants, and cultural and sports facilities. Furthermore, sufficient public transport will be offered to avoid crowds.

The decree also requires the regional health authorities across Spain to be adequately staffed with specialists in epidemic ‘prevention and control’ to quickly respond to any new outbreaks.

Regional health services will have to guarantee that, at all levels of care, and especially in primary care, a suspected diagnostic test will be performed by PCR or another molecular diagnostic technique, as soon as possible.

Also, to ensure being able to trace any new cases, airlines and transport companies will have to retain details of all passengers for ‘at least four weeks’ after they have travelled.

So far the Spanish coalition (PSOEPodemos) government has reached an agreement from the Ciudadanos (Cs) party to support the decree.

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Our previous reports on Coronavirus in Spain:

ALSO READ: Spain reiterates that international visitors must wait until 1 July

ALSO READ: Spain prepares for national and international tourists … but will they come?

ALSO READ: Spanish Congress votes to extend ‘state of alarm’ for final time, until 21 June

ALSO READ: Man jumps travel restrictions to board flight from Madrid to Lanzarote – and receives positive Covid-19 result

ALSO READ: Spain’s ‘excess mortality’ during Coronavirus pandemic is over 43,000

ALSO READ: Far-right Vox party organise car protest

ALSO READ: Spain extends international ban on entry into country until 15 June

ALSO READ: Ryanair plans to restore 40% of flights from 1 July

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