Andalusia’s Junta government approved on Tuesday the mandatory use of face masks in all indoor and outdoor public spaces for everyone over the age of six, a measure which is due to come into effect on Wednesday July 15th.
Non-compliance will result in a €100 fine.
Spain’s most populated autonomous community (8.5 million inhabitants) has followed in the footsteps of most other regions, where in recent days local governments have quickly rolled out legislation which made face masks compulsory in public at pretty much all times.
The difference with Andalusia however is that whereas in other parts of Spain masks are not compulsory at beaches or swimming pools, in the sun-drenched southern region they will be in some scenarios.
Residents and tourists will be expected to wear a mask while walking around the beach or along the shore but not while swimming in the sea.
In the case of swimming pools, masks must be worn while moving around the premises but not while in the water.
Masks will also be required under the sun umbrella or at the chosen spot by beach or pool-goers if it's a group of friends, but not if it's a family unit or people who live together.
“We’re calling for the use of face masks at beaches and pools; only exclusively family settings and children under the age of six are exempt,” Andalusia’s lead Health Councillor Jesús Aguirre told journalists.
“We’re referring in particular to walks along the beach and gatherings at the beach with people who you don’t meet with often.
“You don't need to wear a mask when eating or drinking, when in the sea, if you are under the sun umbrella with family members or lying on your towel as long as the safety distance from other people is applied.
“It will therefore be necessary to wear the mask for meetings with friends, with gatherings of different people that don't live together. The recommendation is clear: the mask should be used whenever possible.”
Aguirre's words therefore suggest that a couple or family who go to the beach or swimming pool can remove their masks when sitting down and sunbathing, as long as they keep the safety distance with others.
But a group of friends not living together hanging out at the beach/pool will have to keep their masks on while sunbathing in each other's company.
Face masks will not be required for outdoor sports and for indoor sporting activities where the type of exercise is incompatible with wearing a mask.
Face masks will not be required either while eating and drinking at a bar or restaurant in Andalusia, but the legislation does imply that when sat down and not consuming, a face mask should be worn if in the company of non-family members or housemates.
Masks must also be worn in private vehicles when the driver and passenger/s don’t live in the same household or aren’t family.
People with breathing difficulties and other health conditions that could be aggravated by wearing a mask are also exempt.
Andalusia is currently sizzling under its usual scorching summer weather, with temperatures reaching 40C in cities such as Córdoba and Seville.
Since May 20th, masks have been mandatory across Spain in indoor public spaces and outdoors when people cannot avoid being closer than 1.5 metres.
A surge in new outbreaks since the state of alarm ended has led regional governments to impose the stricter face mask rules in the hope of curbing the spread of Covid-19.