The mandatory use of a facemask, even when there is the required safety distance introduced as part of the so-called ‘new normal’ law, has spread confusion and opened up a significant argument on Wednesday at the meeting of the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System composed of by the Ministry of Health and the Autonomous Communities.

Pressure from a number of regional officials, including the Valencian Conseleria of Health, Ana Barceló, led the minister, Carolina Darias , to promise to review the law that prevents people removing their mask even if walking alone along a beach or wandering lonely amongst the clouds on top of a mountain, regardless of the incidence of infections in the Autonomous Community where you are.

The introduction of the requirement to wear a mask at all times collides head-on, not only with the usual holiday season activities, such as Easter beach, or mountain walks, but because it imposes a restriction that, until now, had not been considered during the entire pandemic.

That is, for example, in the Valencian Community, where you could walk on the beach without a mask in January – if no one was around – and when there was a accumulated incidence of 1,400 cases per 100,000 inhabitants but now it is prohibited to do so when this indicator has fallen to just 28.

Reported incidents of Coronavirus in the Valencian Community
Reported incidents of Coronavirus in the Valencian Community

It was an absurdity raised by several members of the Interterritorial Council on Wednesday with Catalan Health Minister, Alba Vergés saying “It is an incoherence that nobody understands.”

President of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig made a similar observation saying that he does not agree with the measure either stating that there are many studies that place beaches as “safe spaces” to be able to walk without a mask if there is the necessary safety distance.

Ana Barceló, asked that beach users “be exempt from wearing a mask as long as they are within a security perimeter of two meters and clear of others or if they are bathing”. However, like President Puig, Barceló insisted that “whatever the regulations, the public must always comply with the recommendations and standards established by the health authorities.”

The authorities in the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, meanwhile, said that they will not apply that law, and they will maintain the use of facemasks on beaches as they were previously regulated.

But the National authorities have stated that, whether or not there is a change, this rule is the one that is currently in force and must be followed, at least during this Holy Week, since the minister has said that there will be no further discussion on the matter until the next council meeting next Wednesday.