Editorial: Masks at sea

Last Updated on Friday, 7 May, 2021 at 9:52 am by Andre Camilleri

A total of 1,058 people were fined in connection with breaches of Covid-19 regulations in the past week, authorities said on Monday.

The bulk of those fines – 799 of them – were related to people being caught not wearing their mask outdoors.  As things stand, it remains mandatory for one to wear their masks at all times outside.

Let’s think about this. Does it make sense as we step into the hottest months of the year, the expectation of wearing masks at the beach remains in place? Fines for leaving the sea with a kayak in hand?.  Meanwhile, in Spain, such a law was tipped to crush the remnants of any tourists wanting to visit the country. The law created an immense backlash requiring the government to make a 360 U-turn on the restriction. Locally, we are yet to see any such uprising on the matter.

While one can understand the need for distancing, it makes little sense after coming out of the sea; one is expected to wear a mask immediately. Firstly, if it’s clear someone has just emerged from the water and is heading to their belongings, practically, it is wholly illogical for them to be carrying a mask. Unless some bright spark invents waterproof masks as soon as possible (you heard it here first). So, do you really need to wear a mask when leaving the sea? Speaking to the media, Profs Gauci replied to the question.

“In terms of current legislation, any person shall, outside his residence, both when going to an indoor place and outdoors, wear a mask in a proper manner covering the nose, mouth and chin of the person. This also applies to beaches. Hence, a person needs to put on a mask as soon as possible and always keep a distance of at least two metres from other persons”.  Yet this newsroom has received reports of from multiple individuals being fined for leaving the sea. What is as soon as possible when the police are jumping in on these individuals?  Naturally, the police are duty-bound to ensure that people are wearing masks but being impractical and unreasonable is another matter.

Furthermore, a screenshot circulating social media this week depicts a message to the portal Saħħa, which reads, “masks should be worn if you are standing in the sea”. It is seemingly apparent things are rather woolly here.

 In equal measure, various prospective tourists to the islands have also flagged up mask-wearing at the beach as a deterrent to visiting the islands on the Facebook forum “Malta Holiday experiences”. Let’s hope this is lifted, or at best defined between sunbathing and leaving the sea, long before the heat kicks in. Further clarification is urgently needed.

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