Madrid makes face masks compulsory amid fears of COVID-19 second wave
Rahul Pathak in Madrid

The decision by the Madrid regional government to make the wearing of face masks mandatory in all public spaces is a sign of just how worried the authorities are of a second wave of COVID-19 infections.

The Spanish capital became the epicenter of the virus in April but since then has managed to keep the rate of new infections relatively under control.

The head of Madrid's regional government, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, said these measures needed to be brought in now to prevent a full lockdown in the future.

"From now on, we are going to ask for the mask to be compulsory in all public spaces, although we are aware that the vast majority of Madrid's residents already wear it voluntarily and I would like to stress that we want to thank you once again for your exemplary behavior," she said.


Madrid falls in line with other regions

In recent weeks, almost all of Spain's 17 regions have made the wearing of face masks compulsory. Madrid is one of the last to follow suit. 

The hope being that bringing these measures now will help Madrid avoid the kind of outbreaks seen in Catalonia and Aragon.

People will even have to wear masks while sat down at a bar terrace, customers only allowed to remove them while consuming food and drinks. Gatherings at such spaces will now also be limited to groups of 10.


Madrid is one of the last of Spain's 17 regions to make face masks mandatory in all public spaces. /AFP

Madrid is one of the last of Spain's 17 regions to make face masks mandatory in all public spaces. /AFP


A necessary step

Plaza Mayor in the center of Madrid is surrounded by bars with terraces. CGTN Europe spoke to the president of the Plaza Mayor restaurants association, José Antonio Aparicio.  

He said the new measures were needed to ensure the safety and piece of mind of their customers.

"The whole hospitality industry thinks all sanitary measures are necessary and crucial, since 25 May we have been doing our job but with important sanitary restrictions, if we don't succeed in keeping restaurants safe and give trust to our clients we are lost," he said.

One of those customers told CGTN Europe that the hot Madrid summer made the wearing of masks quite uncomfortable, but that health considerations had to take priority.

"I think in a cafe it can be a bit uncomfortable because you are normally talking and drinking, but since outbreaks are happening I think it is necessary, we have to do the right thing for our health and everybody else's."

The latest figures from Spain's health ministry showed there are about 4,000 fewer coronavirus cases in Madrid than in Catalonia

It is hoped this measure will help to ensure Madrid does not return to the dark days of April, when it was Europe's epicenter for COVID-19.


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