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Masks compulsory in all transport, but nowhere else as yet
18 May 2020 @ 18:58


HEALTH authorities in Spain are working on regulations for wearing masks in public to become compulsory, although at the moment, this only applies to transport.

Later, it may become mandatory for going shopping, out walking, or to bars and restaurants – even though, of course, customers will need to take their masks off whilst actually eating and drinking.

Health minister Salvador Illa strongly recommends masks being worn in these situations anyway, but recalls that their use is already obligatory in private and public transport in order to prevent a rise in Covid-19 cases resulting from Spain's gradual 'unlocking'.

This said, most small shops and hairdressing salons – the only premises besides bars, restaurants and essential services such as supermarkets which are currently allowed to open – normally require customers to wear masks when entering, and to use hand sanitiser at the door, even if they are wearing surgical gloves from home.

Those of State pension age – 65-plus, whether or not they are actually retired – are normally entitled to free masks, and some towns have been delivering free ones to all residents irrespective of age or risk factor, although for those who cannot get theirs free, they cost a maximum of 65 cents each, nearly all pharmacies now have them in stock, and Mercadona supermarkets are selling them in packs of 10 for €6.

At present, all new Covid-19 cases reported are among health service and care workers rather than the general public - even in Madrid, the hardest-hit part of the country – but authorities do not want this fact to make the rest of society complacent, believing that if they are not in direct contact with patients, they are completely safe.

A national, but temporary, law – TMA/384/2020 of May 3, and updated via TMA/400/2020 of May 9 – requires that 'masks which cover nose and mouth' be worn 'by all users of bus, coach, rail, air or sea transport', and also for anyone in private or company cars, taxis, vans, lorries or any other vehicle of with up to nine seats, including the driver and any other transport workers on board or who have direct contact with passengers.

Masks are not compulsory in private or company cars or other vehicles of up to nine seats, even for the driver, where all those travelling inside it live in the same household, and all seats in these vehicles can be occupied, front and back.

Where any occupant in these vehicles does not live in the same household as the rest of those on board, everyone, driver included, must wear a mask, and only two people per row of seats can travel in the car.

The same applies to taxis, although where all passengers live in the same household, they can travel at up to three per row of seats, provided the vehicle is designed for this.

Where vehicles only have one row of seats, such as vans, only two people – including the driver – can travel together, both required to wear masks and keep as much distance between them as possible.

If this distance cannot be guaranteed, no passengers are allowed.



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