End of mandatory masks in Spain this month?

by Deborah Cater
End of mandatory masks in sight? Image by Marco Verch Professional Photographer from Flickr.com uncer dreatice commons license 2.0
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Epidemiologist Fernando Simón made a remarkable statement on Monday. Last week he refused to give a date on which Spaniards can throw their masks away. Now the face of the pandemic in Spain mentions possible timelines.

Epidemiologist Fernando Simón, director of the corona crisis center in Spain, spoke on Monday about the possibility of relaxing rules regarding mandatory masks in specific places or for fully vaccinated target groups as early as mid or late June. Simón spoke during a press conference where he reported on the daily developments of the corona pandemic in Spain.

Simón: “In principle, if everything goes as it is now, we will achieve the goal [of vaccinating 70% of the Spanish population] very soon. It is possible that even before the end of August, masks will no longer be needed in specific places or for specific target groups.”

Hope for end of mandatory masks in many situations

In May, Fernando Simón spoke about the prospect of removing the mandatory wearing of face masks. In short, he said, it means masks are no longer needed once a region has an accumulated virus incidence of less than 150 cases per 100,000 inhabitants measured over 14 days. At that time, Simón said he would rather talk about epidemiological situations than give concrete data. During Monday’s press conference, Simón mentioned a concrete moment that Spaniards can look forward to.

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Simón, together with other experts and people within the government, is thinking about scaling down the mask obligation. For example, there is talk of no longer requiring a face mask for target groups that have been fully vaccinated. There is also the option, where distance can be maintained, to remove the obligation for a mask. The same goes for public areas.

Spanish government must change national law

The appearance of new variants and the different health situations per region in Spain currently make it difficult to adjust the law for the whole of Spain. Currently, Spain has a law which says, from a national point of view, Spain will only end obligatory mask wearing when the governemnt states the pandemic has officially ended.

At the moment, Spain’s government expects to meet the goal of vaccinating 70% of the population in by the end of August. Given the current vaccination rate, there is even talk of mid-August. Simón does add that developments must be followed closely. However, if people continue to follow the measures, relaxation of mask rules could be possible at the end of June.

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