A new rule that orders mask wearing on Spain’s beaches ‘until the end of the pandemic’ is to be reviewed just hours after it came into force today(March 31).
The tougher mask law caught most people by surprise after it was announced yesterday with no apparent consultation with the country’s 17 regions or tourism sector over its suitability and how it could be enforced.
Reports from around Spanish beaches today suggested there were very few people following the new edict or any police officers that were interested in enforcing it.
Health Minister, Carolina Darias, said that her department and the 17 regions had agreed to an urgent review with the possibility of changes being discussed at their next meeting on April 7.
The review will also take in outdoor swimming pools.
The announcement came after Valencia’s health minister, Ana Barcelo, proposed at today’s weekly Inter-territorial meeting that beach sunbathers and swimmers be exempted so long as they are two metres apart.
Her comments were echoed by her regional counterparts.
The brand-new rule states that masks must be worn outdoors and in enclosed public spaces ‘at all times’ by everybody aged six years and over, with some medical exemptions.
The rule applies even in the case of 1.5 metre social distance rules being maintained, which means that somebody lying on a beach would have to wear a mask.
Another by-product of the law change is that outdoor smoking would be prohibited as people would have to remove their masks to have a drag.
Tourism figures in Spain were left dumb-founded by the way the new mask law appeared out of nowhere and the impact it would have on trying to revive the crippled sector
Jose Luis Zoreda, vice-president of national tourist group, Exceltur, told El Pais:”It has been hell with thousand of jobs and businesses on the line, and now there are plans for beaches to become open-air hospitals.”
A number of medical experts have said that the new rule is in great danger of adding to ‘pandemic fatigue’ and could have the reverse impact in reducing mask wearing.
They also pointed out that risk of infections are minimal outdoors so long as social distancing is maintained along with the previous mask rules.