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Social distancing isn't enough: Spain’s Catalonia to make wearing of masks obligatory amid Covid-19 resurgence

Social distancing isn't enough: Spain’s Catalonia to make wearing of masks obligatory amid Covid-19 resurgence
Authorities in Catalonia, Spain are set to announce the obligatory wearing of masks in public following a resurgence of coronavirus in the region which precipitated a secondary lockdown of some 200,000 people.

The proposal is expected to be confirmed on Wednesday afternoon and will take effect on Thursday, said Quim Torra, president of Catalonia’s regional government. 

At present, the wearing of masks is mandatory only in circumstances where people cannot maintain a 1.5 meter distance from one another. Once the new mandatory mask order is announced, Catalonia will become Spain's first region to impose such stringent measures. 

“We want to make wearing masks obligatory at all times,” regional government spokeswoman Meritxell Budo said on Tuesday.

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The measure is expected to last until a cure or a vaccine is found, though the actual time frame has yet to be announced. 

The decision comes amid a shelter-in-place order in Lleida province due to a new outbreak of Covid-19, with 1,000 new cases since early June, and some 64 cases reported in a 24-hour period. Around 200,000 people have already been placed under lockdown, but if the situation continues to deteriorate, authorities may consider a return to a wider lockdown if necessary. 

“If in two weeks there is no change to the situation, we will have to consider new measures such as home confinement," said the head of Lleida's Epidemiology Service Pere Godoy on Monday.

Meanwhile, an additional 70,000 people are also being placed under lockdown in Galicia in northwestern Spain as a precautionary measure. 

The one-time epicenter of the pandemic in Europe has recorded over 250,000 cases and over 28,390 deaths from Covid-19 so far. The Spanish people were previously subjected to one of the most stringent lockdowns seen at that point in the pandemic.

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