Spain ends face masks in public indoor spaces

by Lorraine Williamson
no more face masks in indoor spaces
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MADRID – Exactly two years after the Spanish government made the wearing of face masks mandatory at the national level as a preventive measure against Covid, this rule will be abolished for public indoor spaces from April 20. 

This means that people no longer have to wear face masks in schools, restaurants, and shops. However, the mask obligation in indoor areas remains in place on public transport, hospitals, health centres, and elderly and nursing homes. However, those are the main points. The details of which are yet to be discussed and agreed upon by the minister and the autonomous regions. 

With the proposal, the Ministry of Health follows the advice of health experts to wait until after Easter. Wearing a face mask outside on the street was no longer mandatory, except in busy places where the safe distance between them could not be maintained. 

Coming into force on April 20 

Minister Darias of Health discussed the following steps this morning after the Council of Ministers; “The roadmap is as follows: Approval of the measure in the Council of Ministers on April 19; publication in the Government Gazette on April 20 and entry into force on the same day.” 

Experts: wait a little longer 

Not all experts support abolition. Some believe that the government should wait a little longer before abolishing face masks until the incidence of the flu goes down. The slight increase in hospital occupancy due to Covid that has been registered since Friday should also weaken again.  

In addition, they prefer to wait until the effects of abolishing the obligation to go into quarantine for people who have tested positive can be discussed with more certainty. This was abolished for a little over a week. Experience shows the effect on the virus incidence of changes in preventive measures is only visible about two weeks after. 

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They also argue for a “responsible use” of the mask by and among the vulnerable population. Always in case, a safe distance of one and a half meters cannot be maintained. Even in places without good ventilation, such as shopping malls, supermarkets, cinemas, museums, or bars. Their advice is also to wear a face mask in workplaces when there is little opportunity for fresh air circulation and there is insufficient distance between employees. 

Not all regions agree with the government 

Minister Darias’s proposal is expected to go through. However, that does not mean that all autonomous regions in Spain agree. Madrid and Catalonia completely agree and have been requesting the abolition of the mask obligation in indoor spaces for weeks. 

Andalucia 

However, the region of Andalucia is on the other side. He sees danger in the big city festivals of Seville (Feria de Abril) and the Semana Santa celebrations that are just around the corner. These are celebrations that crowds of people flock to. The region would have preferred to wait another month and a half before abolishing this protection measure. 

Even though the obligation to wear face masks in indoor areas will only be abolished after Semana Santa, the experience of the past two years has shown that people are not taking it so closely anymore in the run-up to it. 

“Caution” 

Castilla-La Mancha also requested the abolition of the obligation at least in schools. The Basque Country, on the other hand, insisted on “prudence”, along the same lines as Extremadura. 

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