Face masks obligatory in Spain
Updated 02:24, 23-May-2020
Rahul Pathak in Madrid

Spain has tightened its rules over the wearing of protective face masks.  From Thursday, the central government made it law for face masks to be worn in all public spaces where social distancing could not be applied. Previously it was compulsory only for public transport.

It's welcome news for service staff such as shop workers that have to deal face-to-face with the public on a daily basis.

We spoke to the assistant manager of one of Madrid's biggest clothes stores. The effects of the pandemic and the resulting lockdown has meant a trickle of customers, but Carlos Tellez says he's happy that the few customers he has will now be wearing masks.

"It's for both our safety and for theirs. We need to control the safety of the customers and the employees of this shop, We really agree with this rule that has now made masks mandatory. All the clients who have come today had done that with both masks and gloves." He told CGTN Europe.

Face mask guidelines

The new rules will apply to everyone over the age of six. Exceptions will be granted to those who cannot wear masks for health reasons, or for those whose work is impeded by doing so.  

Joggers or those taking their daily exercise won't have to wear them. However in busy open-air spaces such as plazas and streets where the public are more likely to mingle it will be obligatory, with fines handed out to those who don't follow the rules.

The feeling among the public in Madrid was on the whole supportive.

"I feel protected. It feels like we are now protected. I feel like the masks protect us from the rest of the public." one man told us.

Members of the civil protection force handed out masks to those who were not wearing one. /Reuters

Members of the civil protection force handed out masks to those who were not wearing one. /Reuters

Combating the threat of another spike

The move to the compulsory wearing of face masks comes just before the weekend, when another decision is expected from the government on whether the country's two main cities, Madrid and Barcelona, will move to phase one of the lockdown de-escalation process.

This would allow closer public interaction with the opening of outdoor terraces for bars and restaurants next Monday.

The rules governing the wearing of masks will remain for the duration of the state of emergency, which will likely go on till the end of June. 

The health authorities say face masks in public are necessary with more people out on the streets as the lockdown gradually eases.

The government of prime minister Pedro Sanchez will hope that these measures lessen the chance of a new spike of infections as they edge the country back to normality.


Check out The Pandemic Playbook, CGTN Europe's major investigation into the lessons learned from COVID-19

Video editor: Paula Harvey