The Canarian Government will make a decision on mask use later today, but prior indications seem to show that the islands will not follow the rest of Spain and make mask-wearing compulsory indoors and outdoors.

However, the government has already pledged to crack down on the informal gatherings that have become the source of several of the recent outbreaks in Spain. They include botellones, barbecues and enclosed areas such as bars and restaurants where parties take place.

The botellón is a widespread Spanish tradition among youngsters who are too young or broke to go drinking in bars and clubs. Instead, they gather in pre-arranged areas to drink alcohol bought from shops (the famous kalimocho – a mixture of Coca Cola, cheap red wine from cartons and ice, is a classic botellón concoction). Bottles or glasses are often shared and social distancing is not a priority.

A botellón held among young seasonal workers from a fruit-picking business in Binéfar, Aragón, is thought to be the source of one of the largest outbreaks in Spain. Dozens of youngsters contracted the virus at the gathering, and as they were asymptomatic, they went on to spread it much further afield.  

The reopening of bars has also led to gatherings where social distancing and mask use is not observed, while the arrival of August means that many locals will be on their holidays, which often involves family gatherings and barbecues. The cancellation of local fiestas also means that these types of celebrations are more likely to take place in private.

Canarian government sources also indicate that closer supervision of mask use will take place on outdoor streets and zones of tourist areas, which can get crowded enough so that observance of the 1.5 metres social distancing recommendations cannot be guaranteed.

Police will be given directions to break up gatherings that are considered risky, as well as issue fines and bring charges.

As we reported yesterday, the Canaries is still performing far better than many  of the regions on the mainland, and this is the reason why the laws on mask use are unlikely to be tightened up too strictly.