Holidaymakers can breathe a sigh of relief: shortly after making masks obligatory on the beach, Spain now says they won’t be necessary while sunbathing or swimming if social distancing is respected.
The law, which came into force last week, sparked a huge backlash in Spain which is heavily dependent on tourism, particularly in coastal areas which are gearing up for summer and lobbying hard for the introduction of vaccination passports.
But following talks late Wednesday, government health officials and those from Spain’s 17 regions agreed to modify the law, meaning people can now remove masks on the beach if they remain in one place, “respecting the minimum 1.5-metre (5-foot) security distance from people they don’t live with,” a health ministry statement said.
But if they walk along the beach, they must put them back on, it said.
It also clarified other activities when masks can be removed, including while swimming in the sea, in lakes, reservoirs, or rivers as well as both indoor and outdoor swimming pools.
If a person is completely alone either on the beach or in the countryside, they will be to remove their masks. But if they are part of a group, they will have to keep it on.
Masks can also be removed for “strictly necessary” moments of eating or drinking in public.
Masks first became obligatory on public transport in early May 2020 in a bid to reduce Covid-19 infections, and within weeks were made compulsory in the street for anyone aged six and above. Anyone violating the rules faces a fine.
Spain has so far lost over 76,000 lives to the virus and counted more than 3.3 million cases.