Tourists in several Spanish holiday hotspots must wear face masks this summer, or risk being hit with hefty fines.
Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and parts of the Basque Country are today adopting harsher rules on protective face coverings following several spikes in new coronavirus infections across the country.
It means that residents and visitors alike in popular tourist destinations such as Barcelona, Majorca and Ibiza are now forbidden from leaving their homes or hotels without wearing a mask, and must wear them at all times while out in public, with those who flout the rules liable to receive an on-the-spot penalty of €100 (£90).
“The general rule is that everyone will leave their house with their face mask on, whether they are going to the beach or to the office,” said Catalonia’s Minister for Health, Alba Vergés. “When the activity is not compatible with wearing a face mask, it may be removed, but safely.”
It is understood that exemptions apply to children under the age of six, those playing sports, and sunbathers.
Visitors to Barcelona must now wear a face mask at all times, even on the beach. Does this put you off going there?
— Telegraph Travel (@TelegraphTravel) July 9, 2020
The restrictions come into force just as British holidaymakers are starting to return to Spanish cities and resorts, with UK quarantine rules for those arriving from Spain due to be lifted tomorrow.
Since the Spanish government started easing lockdown measures in May, face masks have only been required on public transport and in enclosed spaces where it is impossible to maintain a 1.5 metre social distancing gap.
However, a surge in new coronavirus cases in the Catalan city of Lleida, a little over 100 miles west of Barcelona, has prompted the region’s government to double down on strict public health rules in a bid to halt the virus’s spread, locking down travel for the whole of Segrià county and tightening restrictions throughout the rest of Catalonia.
La Marina, a community in the north-west region of Galicia, has also been placed back under lockdown after an alarming increase in infections was traced back to a number of newly reopened bars in the town’s centre.
The Balearic Islands, meanwhile, have suffered relatively low infection rates throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and while there has been no significant uptick in fresh cases, precautionary measures are being put in place ahead of an expected influx of tourists from other European countries.
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