It seems that entering the interiors bare-faced will have to wait a little longer. Spain has not taken to the streets to uncover itself on the first day without mandatory masks. Although the sudden return of the cold throughout the country has not helped, caution prevails at the moment. There are reservations, doubts, some floating fears, but above all strangeness after two years with half of the face covered. It is the jumble of emotions that accompanies every change. She also shows joy.
Keys to the end of masks: where and when should we continue to wear them?
Yuri receives in the bakery of a Madrid neighborhood without a mask, with a smile from ear to ear. “It makes you feel like you’re doing something wrong if you take it off, right?” she says across the counter, happy because she’s finally seen the faces of some of those customers she serves on a daily basis. It is an unusual scene in the shops of Spain. “Of fifty that have entered so far, only one has come without a mask,” they pointed out at the Ayala greengrocer, in Córdoba, informs Carmen Reina. Shopkeepers and customers adduce “custom”, “caution” and “for now” until “see how everything goes”. Some sites have chosen to remove the screens; others keep them.
It happens in small stores and in large chains. The gesture of putting on the face mask when crossing the flank of the door is repeated along the Gran Vía in Madrid. In a cosmetics store, they await instructions from their bosses while glancing at the lipstick rack. The expectation is that sales will grow from today. “It is not necessary today”, explains Nuria, a Zara clerk, to a foreign client, after rehearsing with her counter partner the “thank you” with a smile. The company has decided to release its employees from the obligation to use it. Next door, another worker places some T-shirts with a mask on: “I’m going to keep it on for now because I feel safer.”
With few exceptions, many employees in Spain still have no news of how they should proceed. The royal decree published in the BOE this morning protects companies in its preamble to make this decision but in no case can they force customers to take it. The CSIF union regrets that the lack of foresight to carry out a risk assessment of public administrations has led to maintaining this element of protection for the time being.
The Santander Social Security building is still installed in the pandemic as if nothing had changed. Thus, in addition to the prior appointment to enter the building still in force, a poster continues to appear at the entrance door with the obligation to wear a mask to gain access. For this reason and as one of the security guards tells this newspaper, everyone who has entered public offices this Wednesday has done so with a mask on, reports Blanca Sainz.
The same thing happens with the workers, who have not even received an order that requires them to carry it or not: “Here we all continue to carry it”, confesses the employee. There are those who had not even been aware of the change, such as Silvia, 18, who goes to a post office in the Cantabrian capital. Sergio, a 68-year-old retiree, is clear that he will continue to use it. “I’m having surgery for prostate cancer and I don’t feel safe enough to take it off, but I’ve also seen in the newspapers that infections are resurfacing,” he says.
And in schools? Schoolchildren can legally be in class without a mask from this Wednesday, but the instructions vary depending on each center. Last night many families received emails asking to wait at least for the publication of the rule, although it is not possible to require a boy or girl to wear it as of today.
Communities, such as the Canary Islands or Andalusia, that have asked the centers to wait until they draft the regional order. However, others like Catalonia took the step a day earlier. The opinions of the families are diverse. Álex, a mother of two children aged four and eight, says she can’t wait to take them off because “it’s been a long time now” while Sara, who works in healthcare, continues to wear FFP2 outdoors and says she will wear it on her children for a while. plus. Some teens look forward to this day with apprehension because they recognize that they feel ashamed and would rather continue to wear it. A problem no one saw coming.
In supermarkets the picture does not differ much from the last days or months. “We have been marked to bring it to the employees for another month,” explains Giovanna, a worker at a Carrefour supermarket in the center of Madrid. Most customers weigh the fruit, load the milk and look for the offers with the mask on. Ane, a lady in her late 60s, rushes to the prepared salad counter is one of the few exceptions. “Just as I was obedient to use it, I am now obedient to remove it if we can,” she replies. She then clarifies: “The truth is that I have entered in a hurry and I have left the house thinking that I had forgotten it. This carrying it in her bag is going to be a delirium”.
The greatest confusion is taking place in transport. The rule requires the use of face masks, for example, once you enter the subway cars but not on the platforms or in the stations. María Luisa, a Madrid Metro worker, has been working almost as a police agent for two years to ensure that all users are protected when entering the underground. This Wednesday she has had to clarify many doubts. “And then is the platform no man’s land?” a boy asked him. The difficult thing, this worker anticipated, will be to control that once in the wagons everyone puts on the mask.
Bars were already a space where it was socially accepted to spend hours without a mask as long as you were sitting down. On the first day after the change, things seem to remain the same: customers continue without wearing masks, but most waiters cover their mouths and noses. “It’s not just because of coronavirus. There are many other things that can infect you. It is security for us and for our customers”, explains Brenda, a waitress at the Alkartetxe tavern, located in the center of Vitoria. In this establishment they will maintain the same protocol for a month as before.
“We have some clients of a certain age who come to eat every day. These people care a lot about their health and we care about them. We have a close relationship with older customers. We try from the beginning to comply with all the rules. Now it is complicated overnight to change something that we have had for a long time and we are going to see first how everything works, how things are changing, ”argues this hotelier, open to taking the step in summer. “It’s a very large bar and with the heat from the kitchen, with the terrace… It’s a bit overwhelming.” In the Basque Country, this new phase comes with a rise in the incidence but, above all, with two weeks of great rises in the number of people admitted for COVID-19. There were around a hundred at the beginning of April and now they exceed 300, reports Iker Rioja.
Sometimes the company’s directive collides with the workers’ choice. “I would like to take it off, but the boss has told us to keep it. He says that the regulations allow companies to make the decision and that has been his”, indicates a baker, who confirms that “90% of the clients are entering with it on”. “We are highly suggested. We weren’t like that before, ”she ditches.
“Before the Easter holidays, many workers were already commenting that they wanted to take off their masks because we are there and we can only take them off outdoors, when we go on break, and while we eat or have lunch, then you already see a not very strict that, for example, at the tables that we have outside of six people, two continue to sit when in hospitality and other areas everyone can sit together and without masks, ”says a worker at the Ford factory in Valencia, where has established the maintenance of masks. It’s not the only one. At Stadler Rail Valencia SAU, which also manufactures trains in Valencia, the move is delayed until the end of April. Then the situation will be assessed, reports Carlos Navarro.
This reality coexists with others, such as the one lived by the five workers of BrainLang, a small company in the capital of Murcia. “In reality, we have not used a mask inside for a couple of months here because our tables keep the safety distance, we always have the space ventilated and we go out to the terrace to have coffee,” says the company’s CEO.