LOCALS in Mallorca have condemned the Balearic Government’s decision to make face masks mandatory from Monday.
Meeting on the Paseo Maritimo this morning, a few dozen residents publicly denounced the order which is expected to come into force next week.
The new ruling means that any tourist or local must wear the personal protective gear in all public spaces, with the exception of beaches and swimming pools.
Those caught not wearing a mask will face a fine of €100 regardless of whether or not they are maintaining a two-metre social distance.
Expat and entrepreneur Jonathan Willis, 52, told the Olive Press of his dismay on the new ruling.
He said: “This is just the start. I think businesses were finally becoming hopeful for a good season ahead and now the government has confused things once again.”
He added that it would most certainly ‘drive away tourists’ and blasted the ‘sheer pointlessness’ of wearing masks on an empty street.
Sylvia Ernesti, 32, who is originally from London and has lived in Mallorca for eight years also expressed her fury with the decision.
She believes the obligatory use of face masks is ‘just a way to control the population’ and hand out fines.
She said: “I am actually shocked. Absolutely not looking forward to wearing this mask in the 35C heat.
“To me it is just a way to make money from tourists – surely the police must have more important things to do?”
British expat Marta Allan, 37, who teaches ballet in Palma told the Olive Press the new rules were ‘ridiculous’.
She said: “Personally I just think the fines are a way for the government to reclaim money lost for this year’s poor tourism season.
“And why are the Balearics one of the only regions to enforce this?”
Although relatively peaceful, the protest could serve as ‘the quiet before the storm’ due to the overriding condemnation from business leaders and unions.
The Confederation for Business Employers (CAEB) publicly rejected the ruling yesterday on the grounds of its ‘detrimental impact’ on tourism.
According to the business union, ‘it does not make sense for more restrictive measures to be applied to Balearic visitors than the ones that they have to comply with in their countries of origin.’
As a result they forecast that tourists will choose alternative destinations where the use of face masks are not obligatory.
The executive vice president of the Mallorca Hotel Federation (FEHM), Maria Jose Aguilo, also backed this claim.
She said the mandatory wearing of face masks ‘sends a contradictory message to tourists’ who may now decide to cancel or postpone their holidays.
She added that there was also ‘no point penalising residents with this requirement since their behaviour has been exemplary.’
Aguilo explained that this is reflected in the fact that the region has the ‘most positive COVID-19 data’ in Spain and a high availability of hospital beds.
Photography by Allan Binderup.