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Andalucía is openly critical of Spain's new face mask while sunbathing law ahead of key meeting

Face masks are worn while walking on a beach in Andalucía. File photograph.
Face masks are worn while walking on a beach in Andalucía. File photograph. / SUR
  • 'We are opposed to it, it is an absolute nonsense. It is a good way to scare away tourists,' said the Junta's spokesperson Elías Bendodo

The Junta de Andalucía has openly expressed its rejection of Spain's new law that makes the wearing of face masks mandatory at all times and in all public spaces - which includes at the beach and public swimming pools.

The new coronavirus crisis control law, which has already been published in Spain’s BOE Official Gazette, will be discussed by the national Ministry of Health and the regions at this Wednesday’s meeting (7 March) of the Interterritorial Council to determine in which situations the wearing of a mask will not be mandatory.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, the Andalusian Government spokesperson, Elías Bendodo, described the new law - that even makes face mask wearing while sunbathing - as "an absolute nonsense".

Bendodo pointed out that the existing Junta measures, published in the BOJA Official Gazette, already regulate this situation on Andalusian beaches, "so that the mask is not obligatory when sunbathing with people from your household. We only have to put it on when get up for a walk or when we go to meet with more people," he specified.

The regional government’s spokesperson said this new national law is "a good way to scare away tourists.”

“We oppose it. Our commitment to the tourism sector includes applying common sense and in Andalucía we do not accept the guideline,” Bendodo said.

“We ask that the same rule be rectified and applied as last year. I am convinced, with common sense, that this issue will be addressed,” he added.

Andalucía follows in the wake of other beach tourist destinations such as Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands. The latter two have said they will accept that the face mask is not used when sunbathing and if people are at a sufficient safety distance. Catalonia also maintains that the mask should only be used on the beach when interacting with other people. "When you are sunbathing, you should not wear it, but when you get up and interact with someone, you must keep your distance and wear it," said the acting Minister of the Interior, Miquel Sàmper.

Spain’s Ministry of Health is now studying modifying the obligation to wear masks on beaches and in swimming pools. Last week, Minister Carolina Darias and the regions agreed to determine in which situations it will be allowed not to use a mask and the Interterritorial Council meeting today (7 April) on Wednesday will analyse the options.

The new law, that was published in the Spain’s BOE on Tuesday says, "People six years of age and older are obliged to use masks on public roads, in outdoor spaces and in any closed space for public use or that is open to the public," and the only exemptions are “for those who do sports and people who suffer from illnesses or respiratory difficulties.”