The Canary Islands Government has been evaluating whether it needs to strengthen the rules obliging the use of masks in public places, as has happened in recent days and weeks in other autonomous regions of Spain, the consensus seems to be that this is not a necessary measure at this time, so long as guidelines are being followed. They have said however that they will intensify and harden controls over young people gathering, in what are locally known as “botellones”, as well as poeple at family barbecues, and on how they deal with people inside venues, restaurants and nightspots, when that do not comply with the rules set out, out of concern that these are most likely to be the main sources of any new coronavirus infections in the community.

The Canary Islands Health Ministry’s concern is focused around crowds at discotheques and nightlife venues without respecting social distancing or safety measures. The authorities will also be actively seeking private parties, family and friends, people in enclosed spaces and gatherings on terraces and at restaurants where people do not comply with the mandatory separation of the tables. August is the main month for locals to take summer holidays, and there has been a notable increase in concentrations of people around the southern tourist areas and entertainment venues, so now the Government have approved measures to intensify controls and inspections by the security forces, who have been given very clear guidelines to make it easier for them to disperse crowds and impose sanctions and fines.

The quadripartite coalition government have been reluctant to establish any increased rules on the mandatory use of masks, as has happened elsewhere in Spain, in open spaces because the epidemiological and reinfection data have not significantly worsened to justify such drastic measures.

They say the current measures revolve around the main sources of contagion already identified, although they have admitted that it may also be necessary to reinforce surveillance on the streets around some tourist areas, where it has been detected that masks are not being used adequately, and safety distances are not being respected. “The key is to clarify and improve the regulations in those cases that guarantee that the Canary Islands [can] maintain the low levels of contagiousness that it has, compared to other communities” said sources close to the Executive.

Police have increasingly had to clear night spots and bars, in areas like Playa del Inglés, where large groups have gathered without masks, consuming large amounts of alcohol with no observance of social distancing rules.  The new guidelines will increase their ability to close establishments not sticking to the rules and fine members of the public if necessary.

Stock photo (pre-covid) 2018 Plaza Shopping Centre Playa del Inglés