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From tomorrow Thursday 21st May, it will be mandatory to wear face masks in public spaces in Spain. Ministerial order SND/422/2020, published this morning in BOE-A-2020-5144, states that everyone aged 6 years and above will be required to wear face masks on public roads, open spaces and any closed space open to the public where social distancing cannot be guaranteed, whilst face masks are also recommended for children aged between 3 and 5 years. The obligation to wear a face mask will remain in place for the duration of the State of Alarm, which is currently set to end on Sunday 24th May but which could be extended to June 7th if the Government receives approval to do so later today.

When the crisis first developed, the general recommendation was that face masks did not need to be worn by the public unless someone showed symptoms of COVID-19 infection. As knowledge of the disease increased in depth, the policy changed to a recommendation that face masks should be worn before it was made mandatory on public transport at the beginning of the month. Now, as the population ventures out into the street during the phased de-escalation plan, there is a greater risk of infection and the Government has taken steps to prevent it.

The Ministerial Order states that face masks that cover the nose and mouth will be compulsory in public spaces where social distancing cannot be guaranteed [Article 3], preferably hygienic or surgical, the latter which can be purchased from chemists for a state set price of 96 cents. Health Minister Salvador Illa has already confirmed that the Government will not be dishing out free masks to the public but that almost 10 million masks would be distributed to the regional authorities.

There are a number of exemptions [Article 2] which include people who have breathing difficulties which may be aggravated by the wearing of a mask, people who have justified health reasons not to wear them, and people whose jobs and activities make the wearing of a face mask "incompatible", including eating and drinking in bars and restaurants. The Order doesn't detail any fines for not wearing face masks but the Public Safety Law could be applied which means that a person who refuses to comply could be fined between 100 and 600 euros for not doing so.

Source: SND/422/2020 (BOE-A-2020-5144)
Date: Wednesday 20th May 2020





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