MADRID, July 8 (Xinhua) -- The use of protective face masks will be made obligatory in all public settings, both indoors and outdoors, from Thursday in the Spanish region of Catalonia.
Regional leader Quim Torra made the announcement Wednesday as the region struggles to control a local spike in COVID-19 infections in the Segria area, west of Barcelona.
The main difference to the rule change is that previously face mask use had not been obligatory in outdoor situations where it was possible to maintain a distance of two meters.
Movement into and out of Segria, which includes the city of Lleida and has around 210,000 residents, had been curtailed since Saturday over a serious local outbreak.
Almost 600 cases, most of which are linked to the local fruit growing industry, have been diagnosed in the last 7 days, with 68 people needing hospital treatment, according to the regional health authorities.
The use of a mask has been mandatory in Spain since late May for people over the age of six in all closed public spaces and, if the safety distance of two meters cannot be guaranteed, also in open spaces.