THE wearing of masks in public will be mandatory from Thursday, according to the latest update to the official state bulletin.
But, as ever, there are certain exceptions and stipulations to the controversial new ruling.
Children under six will not be forced to don the protective gear, even if the two-metre ‘safety distance’ cannot be guaranteed.
However the health ministry has ‘recommended’ that children between the ages of three and five wear the PPE if possible.
The new order dictates that masks must be worn in shared indoor and outdoor spaces where it is not possible to maintain a distance of two metres between one another.
They must also be worn on all public transport, a rule which had already come into force earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic.
However the government has not warned of sanctions or fines if you are caught without wearing one. Yet legal experts believe people will be subject to the so-called ‘gag law’, meaning possible fines of between €100 to €600 for minor breaches.
There are also several other exceptions to the rule. These include people who have ‘some form of respiratory condition that may be aggravated by the use of a mask’ or individuals for whom ‘the use of a mask is not feasible due to justified health reasons or owing to a disability.’
Additionally, you can do away with your mask if it is ‘incompatible’ with an activity you are practising, i.e. running, jogging, cycling.
You can also remove your mask in ’emergency’ scenarios or if it is ‘absolutely necessary.’
According to the health ministry, the use of scarves, bandannas or shawls as masks will not be permitted.
The BOE order says it can be any type of mask however, ‘preferably hygienic and surgical, that covers the nose and mouth.’
The order will be in force ‘during the state of alarm’ and ‘its possible extensions.’
The state of alarm is hoped to be extended today to June 7.
It comes after a string of conflicting accounts on the effectiveness of masks for the general public, which, in the space of two months, has changed from ‘unnecessary’ to ‘highly recommended.’
When the outbreak began, masks were recommended for health professionals or people who were having contact with COVID-19 patients.
By the end of March, that recommendation was extended to people with pre-existing conditions and compromised immune systems and those from at risk groups.
Then, following a supply crisis, which led to thousands of ‘fake’ masks being sold and used, authorities said they were unnecessary for the public as they could create a ‘false sense of security.’
The PPE was then made mandatory for anyone travelling on public transport from May 4, and are now obligatory for much of the population.
The Government is now praising the masks for their ability to ‘block the emission of infected droplets’ from an infected person to another.
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