On Tuesday, the Spanish government’s Official State Gazette (BOE) published an amendment to the mandatory use of face masks in Spain.
Until now, face coverings were only mandatory in public and outdoor spaces on the occasion when it was not possible to maintain social distance of 1.5 metres or more.
The amendment has removed the reference to distance, and instead states that individuals in public spaces are required to use face masks – regardless of the distance from other people.
‘With the recent evidence on the transmission of SARS-CoV 2 by aerosols, the use of masks cannot be conditional on not being able to guarantee the distance of 1.5 metres,’ the BOE stated as a reason for the change in law.
The new law changes the decree issued by government in June 2020 – which marked the end of the first state of alarm and the three-month period of lockdown measures.
When the decree came into effect last year, regional governments held the capacity to adapt the rules regarding mandatory mask wearing. Some regions opted for the use at all times, and others made exceptions – such as, at the beach or public swimming pools.
However, under the new law, regional governments are not permitted to make any adjustments, and the same regulations will apply across the country. This will include the mandatory use of face masks at the beach and swimming pools – even when social distancing is adhered to.
The government has not yet clarified its position concerning the use of face coverings while eating and drinking on the terraces of bars and restaurants – however, it is expected that wearing a face mask while food and drink isn’t being consumed will be enforced.
With regard to exemptions, under the new law masks may be removed for individual exercise outdoors.
Other exceptions include people who suffer a type of illness or respiratory difficulty that may be aggravated by the use of a face mask, and those with a disability or dependency.
Exemptions also encompass citizens with behavioural alterations that make the use of face masks unviable and considers further exceptions in unspecified situations of force majeure.
Spain has underlined that the law will remain in effect ‘until the government declares an end to the health crisis created by Covid-19, based on reasoning and scientific evidence’.
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