On Wednesday, Spain’s Inter-Territorial Council of the National Health System published a new agreement on the mandatory use of face masks, allowing for some exemptions whilst on the beach or at swimming pools.
It comes after the Spanish government’s Official State Gazette (BOE) published a controversial amendment to compulsory face masks on 30 March.
The amendment, which removed the reference to the 1.5 metre social distance, stated that individuals in public spaces were required to use face masks – regardless of the distance from other people.
This included the mandatory use of face masks at the beach and swimming pools – a decision which sparked particular opposition from the regional governments.
In response to the controversy caused by the 30 March amendment, the government readdressed the details surrounding the mandatory use of face coverings in a meeting on Wednesday. They have now redefined the activities in which the use of face masks are incompatible.
Activities which have now been deemed as incompatible with the use of face masks now include bathing in the sea, lakes, reservoirs, rivers or in other bathing areas such as outdoor and indoor swimming pools.
The amendment to mandatory face masks also includes the ‘moments of rest’ before or after bathing or practising aquatic sports. Although not stated specifically – the ‘moments of rest’ are understood to include sunbathing.
If resting on the beaches, alongside rivers, lakes, outdoor swimming pools or in similar environments, the ‘moment of rest’ can only be prolonged when a person remains at the same location and respecting the minimum distance of 1.5 metres from people who are not in their domestic bubble.
However, in the case of indoor swimming pools or on board boats, face masks must be worn after the time of rest – which is considered to be the time strictly necessary between intervals of activity.
First aid or rescue activities, ‘when access to the aquatic environment is required’, are also excluded from the use of face coverings.
The removal of masks will also be permitted, in places where it is authorised, during the time needed for eating or drinking.
At the same time, the new agreement outlines the mandatory use of face masks while walking through the access to beaches, lakes, and other natural environments. Further to this, masks must also be worn whilst walking along the seashore and other aquatic environments.
In addition, masks must be worn in the changing rooms of public or community pools, with the exception of using the shower.
Regarding bars and restaurants, face masks must be worn outside and inside of establishments, except during the time necessary to eat or drink.
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