Spain Eases Lockdown, May Make Masks Mandatory Everywhere in Public

China exported 3.86 billion masks and almost 40 million pieces of protective clothing since March 1
AFP/File STR

MADRID (AP) — Spain’s health minister says the government will consider making the use of face masks mandatory in public spaces.

Face masks in Spain are currently only mandatory on public transport, while strongly recommended in public spaces. Many people now wear them while out of their homes after Spain managed to overcome a scarcity of masks in the first weeks of the pandemic.

Health Minister Salvador Illa said Sunday that “there is a wide consensus (among Spain´s regional governors) to reinforce the obligation to wear masks.”

Illa said the ministry’s experts still need time to study the details on the new restriction.

Spain is emerging from a strict lockdown that has slowed down a COVID-19 outbreak that has killed more than 27,000 people in the country and infected more than 277,000.

Spain’s two largest cities are still largely shut down while most of the country has begun to reopen following a lockdown to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Madrid and Barcelona have been told to wait by the government’s health officials since they have been the hardest-hit areas and need to improve their capacity to monitor new cases.

That has led to complaints by Madrid’s regional leaders and to daily protests of a few hundred people in one of the capital’s upscale neighbourhoods and other cities like Salamanca and Zaragoza. Many marchers carry Spanish flags and shout, “Freedom!”

Spain’s right-populist Vox party and the conservative leader of the region have voiced their support for the protests, saying that the city´s economy must restart soon to save jobs.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez made a plea on Saturday for his detractors to consider that keeping the health crisis under control was key to protecting the country´s fragile economy.

“By saving lives, we also save businesses and jobs,” Sánchez said.

Spain has registered its first daily death toll of fewer than 100 confirmed fatalities since declaring a state of emergency to fight the coronavirus two months ago.

Spain’s health minister says regional authorities have reported 87 new deaths, the lowest daily count since March 16. Spain reported over 900 deaths a day at the height of the outbreak.

The country of 47 million has had 27,650 deaths and 277,719 infections from Covid-19.

Spain is easing its strict lockdown measures that succeeded in slowing the spread of the virus but have also brought its economy to a halt.

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