End of requirement for masks in Spanish pharmacies, hospitals and health centres looks imminent

by Lorraine Williamson
facemask obligation ends
ASSSA

Spain’s health ministry on Friday reached an agreement with autonomous communities to end the mandatory use of facemasks in pharmacies, health and social health centres, such as nursing homes, physiotherapy clinics or dentists.

On Tuesday, it seems there will be more clarity. Wearing the facemask was the last major measure to remain in force since the Covid pandemic outbreak in March 2020. The decision was taken Friday after Health Minister José Miñones and regional ministers reviewed the epidemiological situation and vaccination against covid.  

Consequently, it will no longer be necessary, the health ministry said in a statement, to wear a facemask when visiting a pharmacy, retirement home, or in health centres. However, it is still recommended when there are symptoms of respiratory infection in these areas.  

The use of masks will remain in wards or areas where there may be immunocompromised patients, such as oncology wards or in operating rooms and ICUs, where they have always been used. This was a demand made weeks ago by several communities, including Madrid, which has been calling for the abolition of facemasks in hospitals, pharmacies and day centres since April.  

More than 1140 days with facemask

Spain will say goodbye to more than 1,140 days of mandatory use of the facemask in a given area, pending the approval by the Council of Ministers of the royal decree that will contain the new regulations. This will most likely happen on Tuesday. If so, it will then be published in the Official Gazette (BOE) and enter into force. 

The end of facemasks

Until now, facemasks were mandatory in health centres and services such as hospitals, dental clinics, assisted reproduction centres, voluntary pregnancy abortion centres and other specialised care centres. 

They also had to be worn in pharmacies and nursing homes, although in the latter it was mandatory only for professionals working there when in contact with residents and for visitors when in common areas. 

Four months ago, on 8 February, Spain was no longer the only country in Europe to enforce the mandatory use of facemasks in public transport. The measure came months after it had already been adopted by the rest of the continent’s countries. However, many countries still recommended the use of masks in closed areas and on public transport to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

The repeal of the requirement of wearing facemasks in public transport came almost a year after their use outdoors was no longer mandatory. The measure was adopted on 10 February 2022, and a few months later (on 20 April 2022) after they no longer had to be worn indoors. 

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