Catalonia has approved a motion to make the wearing of face masks compulsory in all public places, regardless of social distancing. The measure follows a number of serious outbreaks in the north-eastern community, which reimposed a lockdown on the region of Lleida recently.
Barcelona-based epidemiologist Antoni Trilla said “There’s no clear evidence that lets us know the circumstances in which mask use can be more or less effective, but it’s certain that, if everyone wears one, it helps to reduce the risk of transmission. However, distancing is still the most important thing.”
There is no indication yet that Catalonian measures will be adopted in the rest of Spain, but other regions will be watching the effects of the law closely, as Spain learns how to deal with dozens of minor outbreaks.
In the Canaries, as in the most of rest of Spain, the law says that masks must be worn in areas where social distancing of 1.5 metres cannot be guaranteed. This does not mean that masks are compulsory indoors, but many businesses are insisting that all customers who enter their premises wear masks.
We have also recently heard a case of a couple who were told by police to put on their masks on Arrecife’s main shopping street on Saturday morning. This effectively means that carrying a mask is compulsory in busy areas.
Masks are now freely available from chemists’ shops, usually at 85 cents apiece. The more protective FFP2 masks are also available at higher prices. The relevant Spanish law says that masks must be “preferably hygienic and surgical, which cover the nose and mouth.” This includes home-made fabric masks, but transparent plastic anti-spatter masks are not included.