MADRID – Spain’s most famous epidemiologist Fernando Simón, also director of the country’s corona crisis centre, prefers to talk about epidemiological situations rather than data. But he predicts when people in Spain can go outside without a mask.
This is according to newspaper El Economista. In Spain, wearing a face mask outside and in covered public places has been mandatory for over a year. Many people long for the moment when this anti-Covid-19 measure can finally go to the trash. Officially, there is now a law in force that says that Spain will only end the mandatory masks nationally when the pandemic has officially ended – according to the government.
Galicia and masks obligation
Regional president Alberto Nuñez Feijóo of Galicia is the first to attach a ‘date’ to the moment when, according to him, the Galicians can go outside without a mask. However, he took a wide margin by saying “July or August.” According to Feijóo, the successful progress of the vaccination campaign and the favourable development of the pandemic will allow this.
Catalonia opens debate for without a mask outdoors
The region of Catalonia has also opened the debate to say goodbye to the duty of masking. In mid-May, Marc Ramentol, regional Health Care minister, announced that his government would start sometime in ‘the coming weeks’ debating about the end of the masking requirement.
Andalucia takes a more careful approach
The regional minister of Health in Andalucia prefers a more conservative approach. A week ago, Jesús Aguirre said until group immunity reaches the levels of 70-80%, the mask should remain outside. However, he did predict by the start of the next school year (mid-September) people will be ‘much more relaxed about wearing a mouth mask outside. For example, in schools during gymnastics lessons or the break and in the summer on the beach’.
Valencia is already considering end of duty in July
The Generalitat (Valencian sub-government) is studying the possibility of lifting the obligation of a mask in outdoor areas in July. President Ximo Puig stated this week he was in favour of abandoning face protection in nature reserves such as beaches. However, he leaves the final decision in the hands of epidemiologists, the ABC newspaper wrote.
Face mask on the Balearic Islands
In the Balearic Islands, the low percentage of the population immunised against Covid-19 is a barrier to people not wearing the mask outdoors. Experts consulted on the islands believe the right moment is ‘not now´. It is possible, however, to allow people who have been fully vaccinated or immunised to remove their mask. However, in practice, this would be difficult to control.
Not looking at data, but at epidemiological situations
Previously, Fernando Simón said the mask obligation in Spain could be ended once a region has an accumulated virus incidence of less than 150 cases per 100,000 inhabitants measured over 14 days. “It is not good to give a date, I prefer to look at epidemiological situations. But we can make predictions about data on the basis of those favorable virus situations,” the epidemiologist phrased somewhat elaborately.
Risk level warning system
Simon’s proposal is based on the traffic light system activated by the Inter-territorial Advisory Board of the National Health System. This is a barometer that distinguishes 5 risk levels:
- Very high risk: more than 250 cases per every 100,000 inhabitants
- High risk: between 150 and 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants
- Medium risk: between 50 and 150 cases per 100,000 inhabitants
- Low risk: between 25 and 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants
- New normalcy: Less than 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
Spain as a whole is now in Level 3 with less than 150 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. According to the latest data from the Ministry of Health, the figure in Spain is 128.12 cases per 100,000 inhabitants: a situation of medium risk of transmission of the virus. 13 regions and an autonomous city are also in that level. That would mean that, according to Simon, the mouth cap can be removed outside. Yet there are still four autonomous regions that have higher values.
- level 4 risk autonomous regions (less than 50 cases): Balearic Islands (37.56), Region of Valencia (29.74), Ceuta (13.06).
- autonomous regions at risk level 3 (less than 150 cases): Asturias (69.10), Canary Islands (83.09), Cantabria (84.92), Castilla-La Mancha (127.96), Castilla y León (131, 86), Catalonia (124.30), Extremadura (83.37), Galicië (77.06), Murcia (72.26), Navarre (135.97), La Rioja (146.91).
- high risk level 2 autonomous regions: Andalucia (163.77), Aragon (187.76), Madrid (202.29), Melilla (194.08), Basque Country (212.20).