MASKS will be obligatory in Spain by this Wednesday, according to statements made by health minister Salvador Illa.
The socialist said during today’s press briefing that new regulations will be effective as soon as ‘published in the BOE’ state bulletin – and that this could happen as soon as ‘tomorrow morning’.
The measures will mandate the use of masks in closed spaces and on the street where two-meter safe distances cannot be respected.
The minister hinted at the new rules last Sunday before announcing the moves on Monday night. It follows the compulsory use of masks on public transport, effective from May 4, the same day residents were allowed out for exercise and walks.
Until now, the use of face masks has only been recommended in areas where social distancing measures cannot be respected.
Leading health research bodies, such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Center for Disease Protection and Control, initially recommended masks only for those with signs of COVID-19 – as well as healthcare workers.
However growing evidence that patients can transmit the virus before experiencing symptoms, as well as those who are asymptotic, have influenced the government’s decision making.
Illa said today to reporters that masks were a ‘precaution’ to safeguard Spain’s de-escalation plans. He said he couldn’t foresee problems of supply, and that the government has already controlled prices.
He added that ‘exceptions’ will be made for those below a certain age – yet to be determined – and those for whom mask usage is not recommended.
It follows a response made by Fernando Simon, director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts, during a press briefing last week that obligatory mask usage was an ‘overreaction’.
“I’m not going to give an opinion for or against them being obligatory. There is now a high recommendation for anyone who goes onto the street [to wear one]. Making them obligatory is to overact a bit, it might be okay, but perhaps we should act in other areas. The best mask is a two-meter distance.”
He warned that a face mask may be a problem for some people, such as those with anxiety, chronic pulmonary obstructive disease or other respiratory restriction issues.
El Confidencial Digital has suggested fines for contravention of the rules will start from 300 euros.
It comes after the Olive Press reported on a British expat on the Costa Blanca who tested positive to COVID-19 twice in two months.
After completing an initial quarantine period, Ian Tanner believed he was ‘immune’ and began returning to the shops as well as seeing his grandchildren and family.
But a month after having the all clear, he tested positive again after seeing is doctor complaining of back pain. He told this paper that had it not been for the back pain, he would have been ‘out there and probably without a mask on, maybe infecting friends’.