Residents and tourists get used to new face mask regulations in Andalucía

Beachgoers must now wear their masks when walking on the beach.
Beachgoers must now wear their masks when walking on the beach. / Salvador Salas
  • The regional government's order to make masks compulsory in all public spaces, regardless of distancing, came into force on Wednesday

The Andalusian government's order to make the use of face masks mandatory in all indoor and outdoor public spaces around the region came into force on Wednesday.

The rule applies regardless of whether a distance of a metre and a half can be maintained, which was the condition previously established by the central government. The penalty for failing to comply is a fine of 100 euros.

After announcing the new rules at the weekend, officials revealed the details on Tuesday, the most surprising point for many being that masks would have to be worn even on beaches and at swimming pools.

The regional authority specified that the obligation would not apply when swimming or when people are within the space occupied by their own towels or sunshades. Masks do have to be worn, however, when walking along the beach.

It was along the shore where the most cases of noncompliance were noticeable on Wednesday. One user of La Carihuela beach in Torremolinos, Marisa Sánchez, said she had been "dodging people without masks" during her walk along the shore. "The lack of respect some people have for the rules is incredible," she said.

Many, however, claimed that they were unaware of the new regulations and were informed by members of the special Covid-19 precaution staff patrolling the beaches this summer.

"A lot of people wear them hanging around their necks and only put them on when they see us," said one of the beach informers.

For the first few days with the law in force Local Police officers are also concentrating on informing members of the public, before starting to issue fines.

"People have to think of others and be aware that the virus is still here and that contagion can happen," said one officer in Malaga.

A responsible attitude is what officials at the Junta de Andalucía have called for this week. Spokesman Elías Bendodo said on Tuesday that all residents and visitors will have to get used to wearing masks "everywhere and at all times", treating it as an essential item of clothing.

Regional Health Minister, Jesús Aguirre, called for people to get into the habit of always wearing a mask as soon as possible, saying that the security forces, especially the Local Police, were being urged to enforce the law.

He also called for responsibility on the part of the general public, especially when mixing with people not in their own household or who they don't see regularly.

The order published on Tuesday recommends the use of masks in private indoor and outdoor spaces when there are gatherings of people who do not normally live together, even though social distancing is possible.

Exceptions to the mask-wearing rule include those practising individual sport, children under six and people with some medical conditions or disabilities.