THE obligatory use of face masks has been the latest update to cause confusion, uncertainty and controversy.
In force since last Thursday, the new order states that anyone aged six and above must don the personal protective equipment (PPE) in public indoor and outdoor spaces where it is not possible to maintain the safety distance of two metres between each person.
They must also be worn on all public transport, a rule which had already come into force earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic. There are also several exceptions, such as people with respiratory conditions for whom the mask would make breathing difficult.
While the order in the BOE state bulletin does not warn of fines, the Health Ministry has since confirmed that police have the power to issue sanctions, particularly this week, following the ‘grace period’ to adjust to the new rule.
The ministry said police will be acting in accordance with the controversial Gag Law, or Citizen Security Law.
This allows punishment for people who resist the orders of police and repeat offenders of said orders.
Minor breaches of confinement rules in line with the Gag Law have seen fines of between €100 and €600. Serious breaches or those who repeatedly flout the rules, in theory, can see fines of between €30,000 and €600,000.
But how likely are you to be fined if caught without a mask in the street?
In line with the law, fines will be handed out to those who disobey or resist authorities when told to put on a face mask. Whether or not a fine will be handed out and how much it will be will depend on the response and attitude of the person and whether or not they are a repeat offender, reported La Vanguardia.
It suggests that if you are being told off for the first time, you will not be issued with a fine, but repeat offenders will be.
If you are found without a mask in indoor public spaces, you will be asked to leave said space. If you refuse, then, naturally, you will face being fined.
Of course one does not need to wear a mask while playing sport or performing individual exercise. You also do not need to don the PPE while eating or drinking.
In the case of cars or motorcycles, when people who do not live in the same house are travelling together, they must wear a mask.
If you live in the same household and are in the same car or vehicle, you will not have to wear a mask.
You must, however, throw away your masks responsibly.
Archena, a muncipality in Murcia, has warned of fines of up to €2,500 for people caught tossing away their used masks on the ground.
“We are going to intensify the vigilance in the municipality to sanction the irresponsible behaviour of many people who not only flout social distancing measures, but also decide to throw their masks and used gloves on the ground, risking the contagion of others,” said mayor Patricia Fernandez in her meeting with the Chief of the Policia Local.
I agree with wearing a mask according to guidelines. However, I would like to point out that I have yet to see a place where there is a garbage bin for your used masks?