MADRID – Starting next week, wearing a face mask outdoors in Spain will no longer be mandatory. Minister Darias of Health confirmed this on Friday during the program Hoy por Hoy of radio Cadena SER.
The relevant Royal Decree will be approved by the Council of Ministers next Tuesday 8 February. According to sources at the ministry, it will then come into effect as soon as the authorities have published the text in the official gazette BOE. They will most likely do this on Wednesday 9 February, so that the mask obligation on the street will expire on Thursday 10 February.
“strictly temporary measure”
Last Tuesday, parliament ratified the decree that would extend the mask obligation by one week. In this regard, the head of the Health Council already indicated in Congress this week that the obligation to wear a mask outside the home was a “strictly temporary” measure. Adding that it could even be abolished within a few days, as has now happened.
Re-entered due to omicron
The obligation to wear a face mask outside on the street has been in effect since December 22. Then the government decided to reapply this measure in light of the rapidly advancing omicron variant. It allowed the number of infections to increase explosively from Christmas until well into January.
Face masks outside ‘not an effective measure’
Experts already emphasised during that period that the mask was not an effective measure to stop infections outdoors. Exposure to the virus was — and still is — much greater in indoor situations. In addition, many autonomous governments urged the national government to lift this obligation. That will finally happen next week.
Downward trend of epidemiological evolution
The government is making this decision now that the epidemiological evolution is on a downward trend. The infections are decreasing and the accumulated incidence is decreasing by the day. The daily curve of cases is falling like three weeks in a row. This Thursday, the number was 2,420 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. In addition, the number of hospitalisations related to Covid, both in the wards and in ICUs, is slowly but surely declining.
Face masks still mandatory outside in busy situations
With the new decree, the mask is only mandatory outdoors in busy places where people can’t maintain the safe distance of one and a half metres to others with whom they do not live together. With this measure, Spain is getting a little closer to the old normality.