Spaniards over the age of six now have to wear masks in any indoor or outdoor public area where social distancing is impossible. Madrid is hoping the order will keep a lid on new infections.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the government would distribute 6m masks, mainly at transport locations, and give another 7m to local authorities.
Health Ministry says they are needed for indoor public spaces and outdoors when impossible to keep two metres apart
Spain’s government has made it mandatory for people to wear masks in any indoor or outdoor public spaces where they cannot keep two meters apart from others. The measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus applies from Thursday to “persons aged six years or over,” the order from Madrid said. However, there are exceptions. For example, some groups, including those with respiratory difficulties or other health problems that prevent them from using a mask, will be exempt from the rule.
Almost 28,000 people have died from the coronavirus in Spain. The country is still under a state of emergency, but is gradually transitioning out of its strict lockdown after a steady decline in new infections.
Madrid has eased restrictions to allow children outdoors, and shops and beaches to reopen. But it is keeping a quarantine for overseas travellers for another two weeks.
“We have not got this far by inertia, but by the work of the health workers. The citizens, united, have bent the curve. No one has the right to waste what we have achieved together,” Mr Sanchez told congress, as his minority government tackled the increasingly hard task of getting support from other parties to extend the state of emergency.
Lockdowns in other European countries are also being eased, though social distancing remains in force. Some countries require mask-wearing in shops and on public transport.