Spanish citizens' mixed views on the country's face mask regulations
Updated 01:15, 27-Jul-2020
Rahul Pathak in Madrid

To wear or not to wear a mask? That is the question that many people are asking right now across Europe. In Spain, however, there seems little doubt as to the answer.

CGTN Europe went to the centre of Madrid's shopping district where the Saturday afternoon shoppers were wearing masks.

"Yes it's quite difficult also because of the heat in the summer. But you have to be responsible – this is now the new normality and we have to cope with it," Àlvara Garcia told CGTN Europe.

Santiago Salvador is from Catalonia where the regional government recently re-imposed the wearing of face coverings following a recent series of Covid-19 outbreaks.

"I think it's very good wearing a mask, we will have to wear masks everywhere from now on," he said.


Spain's citizens have mixed views on the country's face covering regulations. /Reuters

Spain's citizens have mixed views on the country's face covering regulations. /Reuters


According to a survey by Imperial College London and YouGov, Spaniards are more willing to wear face masks than any of their European neighbours.

The most recent poll found that 86 percent of Spaniards said they would wear a mask in public places. That ranks them above Italy, France, Germany and the UK.

"Spanish people are obedient because they are well-mannered," political scientist and sociologist Myriam Fernandez Navado told CGTN. "This is also thanks to the direct and clear messages they received during the pandemic. 

"That helped people assimilate those health measures to the stage that they're now using masks, keeping social distance and washing their hands, respecting the experts' measures. There's also something in our DNA, that's the social empathy we have in general with everyone, regardless of their position or age."

Long-term effects

Spanish authorities didn't bring in masks straight away. They were made mandatory on public transport on 2 May, but it was only 20 days later that they were made compulsory in all public spaces where social distancing was impossible.

With masks now so prevalent right across Spain, Fernandez Navado says it's changing the way people interact with each other. 

"For us in Spain where we are very close to family and we have a high number of social relations due to our climate or cultural habits, the lack of facial expression – just seeing the eyes, the fact that not being able to get close or having no non-verbal language at all – will affect us adults, but more importantly the younger ones, for whom the touch and non-verbal language is really important for their social evolution."

The Spanish government says the wearing of masks will be obligatory whenever possible until a vaccine is found – making them the most visual symbol of what we now regard as the new normal.