Tuesday, May 18

Government and autonomies review the mandatory nature of masks

People with masks on the Postiguet beach in Alicante.

People with masks on the Postiguet beach in Alicante.

The Ministry of Health will send this afternoon to the communities a proposal for “modulate” the mandatory use of masks which contemplates the new normal law even when the safety distance of 1.5 meters can be maintained.

At the meeting of the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System (CISNS) last week, Minister Carolina Darias offered the regional councilors to work “in a technical way” to review and update this part of the new normal law, whose literalness imposes the use of masks even when alone in open spaces. In today’s Darias will “probably” lead a proposal to “modulate” or correct the rule because it is “common sense,” according to the director of the Center for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies, Fernando Simón, on Monday.

The law, published last Tuesday in the BOE, is the result of parliamentary work from the royal decree of new normality that was approved in June 2020 to be processed as a bill. During his parliamentary process in the Senate, an amendment was introduced by the PSOE that established the mandatory mask even while maintaining the safety distance, when until then it was required that it was not possible to keep the distance of 1.5 meters. The motivation for the amendment argued that “with the recent evidence on the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by aerosols, the use of masks cannot be conditional on not being able to guarantee the distance of 1.5 meters”. “On public roads, in outdoor spaces and in any closed space for public use or that is open to the public,” indicates the final wording of the law that received the final endorsement of Congress on March 18.

As soon as the publication of the standard is known communities reacted in cascade and showed their rejection to an obligation that until then had gone unnoticed. It was the case of the Balearic Islands, which interpreted that it is not mandatory on beaches and natural spaces for those who go alone or with partners and maintain their distance, but it is in social gatherings in those places, regardless of what the state law says. The Secretary of Public Health of the Generalitat, Josep Maria Argimon, yesterday questioned the norm and trusted that the Ministry of Health modulates his proposal: “Forcing to wear a mask on the beach I do not know if it is good,” he commented before emphasizing that the sweat or sand can “lose the protective effect” of it.

The Junta de Andalucía also flatly rejected the use of mask to sunbathe on the beach and in the swimming pools and opted for the guideline that it implemented last summer, according to which it is mandatory to walk along the shore but not to be on the beach. umbrella in groups that do not exceed 6 people.

Another aspect that was modified in the drafting of the law with respect to the previous text is that on decks and exterior spaces of ships and boats the mask becomes mandatory. It did not change, however, its imposition of use in means of air, maritime, bus or rail transport, as well as in other complementary public and private passenger vehicles in vehicles with up to nine seats – including the driver – if the occupants are not living together. .

Remain excluded People who present some type of illness or respiratory difficulty that may be aggravated by the use of the mask or who, due to their situation of disability or dependency, do not have the autonomy to take it off or have behavioral alterations that make its use unviable. Neither will it be enforceable “in the case of individual outdoor sports or in cases of force majeure or situation of necessity or when, due to the nature of the activities, the use of the mask is incompatible, in accordance with the indications from the health authorities “.


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