July 23, 2020 / 12:57 PM / 19 days ago

Wear a mask even at home, Madrid region says

A man wearing a protective face mask walks past a shop window with a message reading in Spanish "Thank you Madrid" amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Madrid, Spain, June 16, 2020. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/Files

MADRID (Reuters) - Face masks should be worn even at home if you are with people you do not live with, an official from the Madrid region said on Thursday, even though he conceded there was no way to enforce such a recommendation.

Spain already has Europe’s strictest rules on masks. In Madrid they are mandatory everywhere in public unless people are outdoors and can keep a 1.5 metre distance. In most of the country, they must be worn in public regardless of safe distances, but with no rules on wearing them at home.

“We recommend, as a precaution, the wearing of masks in private spaces when there are meetings or gatherings of people who don’t live together,” Enrique Ruiz Escudero, the health chief of the Madrid region, told a news conference.

“We feel it is important since the majority of outbreaks happen in family or friends meetings or celebrations gathering people who don’t live together.”

The official said it was up to each citizen to wear a mask in private gatherings, adding that most people in Madrid were already wearing one outdoors even without it being mandatory.

Madrid was one of the hardest-hit regions at the peak of the pandemic, but has over the past weeks reported far fewer cases than Catalonia and Aragon, where most of the new clusters have been reported.

The Canary islands region popular with tourists, the only other area in Spain where masks are not mandatory outdoors if people can keep a safe distance, has issued a video with a similar message.

At the end of a clip that shows a family gathering, embracing and hugging for a grandfather’s birthday, one of the birthday presents turns out to be a respiratory device. A message on the screen reads: “A simple family gathering can bring you as a present 40 days in coma, or even death.”

Reporting by Inti Landauro, Nathan Allen and Ingrid Melander; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Alison Williams

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