Please sign in to post.

[infox] Visitors to Catalonia: use of face masks is compulsory at all times now

For those visiting Barcelona or anywhere in Catalonia now or in the coming weeks, the Catalan government has just announced the use of face masks is compulsory from tomorrow July 9th onwards when outside, alongside the already in place advice of social distancing and frequent washing of your hands with hydrogel. Up until now, if sufficient social distance was possible, the use of face masks was recommended but not compulsory. This changes now.

There are certain exceptions to this measure such as when one is doing sport (ie. running) or eating in a restaurant, etc. As soon as the exact list of "exceptions" is officially announced I will post it here.

Without entering into useless discussions about whether it's right/wrong, coherent/incoherent, whether it's enforceable or not, etc. I am posting this because the decree approved today includes possible fines of 100€ for those not in compliance and it doesn't matter whether you're a resident or a visitor. So now you know, wear your mask 😉

Posted by
2529 posts

On a personal note, I am pretty sure there'll be resistance to this measure and one will encounter a number of citizens not complying whether there's sufficient social distancing or not... but it's only fair to let know those that are not aware on what's going on because if the going gets tough the fines will come (for anyone not wearing the mask), so better safe than sorry.

Posted by
1 posts

Hi Enric, thanks for the update - I'm thinking of coming to Barcelona next week from UK, can you kindly let me know how things are at the moment over there and if shops, restaurants etc are open?

Would you recommend still visiting at present?

Thanks!

Posted by
4207 posts

Looks like I have a tricky decision to make. Myself and five other friends have a long weekend in Barcelona booked from the 19th September. This is one of British Airways' hotel and flight deals and so far we have only made a deposit with the remainder to be paid by the 15th August. Clearly spending our weekend eating and drinking our way through Barcelona (that's primarily what it's all about) isn't going to be much fun if we're forced to wear facemasks. Our options are to pay the balance and gamble on the facemask requirement no longer being in place by mid September or lose the deposit and put the remainder of the kitty towards next years trip. What a difficult decision!

Posted by
2529 posts

Hi guys,

@West, as I said, on the surface looks like "business as usual", and most things are open, people stroll, sit on terraces and go to the beach, but there are these measures in place that make everything (to me at least) a bit weird: queuing to enter certain "more busy" businesses (other than for a few popular restaurants and night clubs, we're not used to having to queue outside a business!), limited capacity in the beach -enforced by the local police- and in all tourist sites, some smaller mom&pop shops that have definitively closed leaving a sadder landscape in certain areas, and lots of masks everywhere. In truth, it's a mixed feeling: on the one side, I'd say this is a good time for visitors to come as there are far fewer visitors than usual and you can still do 90% of what you normally do when visiting, on the other, these are strange times and an outbreak (with consequences) is possible at any time.

@JC, while eating and drinking you don't wear a mask :) that's one of the 'exceptions', of course.

As promised, this is the decree: https://docs.google.com/viewerng/viewer?url=https://imatges.vilaweb.cat/nacional/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Mascara.pdf and this is the original law to which it refers: https://dogc.gencat.cat/ca/pdogc_canals_interns/pdogc_resultats_fitxa/?action=fitxa&documentId=875707&language=ca_ES (Use google translate, of course)

In short: wearing masks at all times, especially outside, with two provisions "The obligation contained in the previous section will not be required for people who have any type of illness or respiratory difficulty that may be aggravated by the use of the mask or who, due to their situation of disability or dependency, do not have 'autonomy to remove the mask or have behavioural alterations that make its use unfeasible. Nor will it be required in the case of outdoor physical exercise or in cases of force majeure or situation of need or when by the very nature of the activities the use of the mask is incompatible, in accordance with the indications from the health authorities". [here, one of the activities which are "incompatible" is eating and drinking in a restaurant :))]

Having a brisk walk without wearing any flashy garment can pass as "outdoor physical exercise"?... who knows, unconcise norms and regulations left to the free interpretation seem often to be typical of these shores! In any case, knowing how the system works, should you get a ticket for not wearing a mask it'd be you that would have to "documentally" prove you were under any of these provisions. Better don't test it.

Keep safe and have a good visit!

BY THE WAY, those thinking in visiting the Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Eivissa.... ) will encounter the same measure put into place. Today, their government has announced that wearing masks will also be compulsory in public.

Posted by
4207 posts

Thanks for the clarification Enric and thanks also for the heads up about Mallorca as we're going there as a family at the beginning of August however it will be a different type of holiday compared to the trip to Barcelona and we'll mostly be relaxing at the resort and in the villa. The short journey on foot from the car to a restaurant will not be much of a burden for wearing a mask so it won't be so much of an issue.

Posted by
353 posts

Enric, thanks for the update and clarification. Hope you are well. Will have to wait until the dust settle (a lot more) before visiting again. A couple of curiosity questions.

  • By your observation, what percentage of the Catalonians are complying with wearing face masks?
  • What are the hot spots such as Sagrada Família like? It was packed like sardines inside and out when I visited two years ago.

BTW, the Aussies mean business:

https://www.boston.com/news/coronavirus/2020/07/10/kfc-birthday-party-australia

Posted by
2529 posts

Hi @staynsavor.

Frankly, I wouldn't dare to say because it depends a lot on the area of the city and also on what you mean by "wearing the mask". On the one side, I can tell you for example that wearing the mask in Sarrià-Sant Gervasi district is, generally speaking, quite high but I've briefly been in other areas, ie. Gotic or the beachfront, and the percentage is probably less. This probably has a reasonable explanation but I wouldn't know which one. Still, overall the percentage of usage across the city is surprisingly high (as it should be anyway!).

As per "wearing the mask".... these tweets from the Catalan police tell it all, right?
https://twitter.com/mossos/status/1280807984474599425
https://twitter.com/emergenciescat/status/1279401569017102338
https://twitter.com/mossos/status/1278974739852206080

Unfortunately, among certain groups, especially younger generations, while they "wear" the mask, they don't do so correctly and don't seem to care much sometimes. Now, however, this is punishable with a fine.

I can understand is very hot and humid now in July and it can be unbearable at times, but the reason why this was enacted is very compelling. We are detecting numerous new cases every day and while ERs are managing for the time being, should another major outbreak occur, like the one in March, we'd be too close again to saturation of the healthcare system. This can't happen!

There are fewer visitors in the city -as expected- and besides, all public spaces have stricter rules for visits among which a smaller allowed capacity. This means that you'd be visiting with far fewer people around.

I have to add though, that this a city with 1.9 million people + several hundred thousand local and foreign visitors on any given day. This means that at certain moments and in certain places there might be alarming concentrations of people (ie. at certain hours in trains or metro, on weekends at the beach --which, btw, is monitored by local police and when capacity is reached beach-goers are turned away).

Posted by
44 posts

Enric, how do they define "mask"? t\There are a ton of cotton patterned masks in use here - is that going to fly there? Or need the surgical mask look alike? Thanks!

Posted by
2529 posts

Good question... as far as I know "mask" is anything that covers your face proper (mouth and nose and no gaps in cheeks, so no handkerchief or bandanas please!) and that are sold as such ('face mask'). There are official recommendations about FPP1, FPP2 and FPP3-grade masks but I am not aware about specific details on what constitutes a "valid mask" to wear -legally speaking that is.

Anyway, much like everywhere else, there are basically three types of masks in the streets: surgical one-use masks you get by the lot in pharmacies, cotton patterned masks with a 'pocket' to place disposable grade-filters and then those hospital-like FPP2/FPP3 types... and finally the odd super-extra-mega-ultra specialized ones by those more paranoid about the issue.

Actually, from a legal point of view, any of these should do.

BTW, another two regions add to the policy of compulsory face masks at all times while outside: Andalucia and Aragón.

Posted by
1740 posts

Here's information on Buff that has a new Filter Face Mask that is amazing, and comfortable to wear in warmer temps. Buff is based just outside of Barcelona. This fabric mask totally fits the needs in Spain and around the world. https://www.buff.com/gb/masks/adults.html

This mask fits the needs for travel with a disposable filter and lightweight washable fabric. I'm getting one for use in the US and for "hopefully" European travel next year...should masks still be required.

You can shop them in other countries on line.

Posted by
353 posts

Still, overall the percentage of usage across the city is surprisingly high (as it should be anyway!).

That's encouraging. What "should be" has not been the case in many other places.