Will the obligation to wear face masks finally be abolished in Spain?

by Lorraine Williamson
face masks in Spain

MADRID – While more and more countries in Europe have abolished all corona measures, there is still a duty in Spain to wear face masks in indoor areas such as shops, restaurants, and museums and on public transport. 

No concrete date has been set as yet. However, the full Congress of Deputies has approved a motion by the liberal centre party Ciudadanos. In this, the party requests to abolish the obligation to wear face masks in public indoor areas. 

Back to the old normal 

Although the number of infections is slightly increasing again, the return to the old normal before the corona outbreak has accelerated since last Christmas. The Omicron variant has stabilised and leads to less serious symptoms. The government has therefore already reversed several measures. People no longer have to wear a face mask outside. And, furthermore, the period that people have to quarantine has been shortened from 7 to 5 days. In addition, people with no to mild symptoms no longer need to quarantine. 

Discussion about face masks in indoor space 

The next step is to abolish the wearing of face masks in indoor spaces. However, this measure has sparked much discussion among political parties in recent months. Nevertheless, the majority of Congress has finally taken a position on this with the passing of Ciudadanos’ motion to abolish the mask requirement in indoor spaces. 

PSOE supports the abolition of face masks in indoor spaces 

Spain’s largest party, the ruling socialist party PSOE, has only agreed to the amendment initiated by Ciudadanos after some hesitation. Scientific evidence, the current epidemiological situation, and conditions in other European countries ultimately led the party to support the motion. 

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More supporters 

The extreme right opposition party, Vox has also approved the motion. The other progressive ruling party, Unidas Podemos, abstained and the conservative Christian Democrat PP, the Basque PNV, and the Canary Coalition voted against. This resulted in 184 in favour, 91 against, and 57 abstentions. A result that the government coalition of the PSOE and Unidas Podemos cannot ignore. 

When will face masks be permanently removed from the streets? 

The motion at issue here does not count as an obligation, as in the case of a bill being passed. The PSOE has therefore decided that the Inter-Territorial Council of the National Health System will take the necessary steps to review the measures to control the pandemic. President Pedro Sánchez said in a plenary session last Wednesday that the Ministry of Health will announce the date of definitive abolition of the mask requirement as soon as doctors recommend it. The latest news is that this will happen on Wednesday, April 6. 

“Each day closer to abolition” 

However, Ciudadanos spokesman in Congress, Edmundo Bal, noted at a press conference after this meeting that “the government will not want to ignore what its parliamentary group is proposing”. All Sanchéz had to say to this was: “Every day we are one day closer to abolition.” 

Previous same Vox motion rejected 

It is remarkable in this whole matter that Vox had previously submitted a similar motion for the abolition of the mask except in hospitals and other health institutions. The party only received the support of Ciudadanos. The Committee on Health and Consumers’ Organisations rejected the motion last Tuesday.  Furthermore, PSOE deputy Josefa Andrés even called the initiative a “negationist plan”. 

Read update: Face mask obligation to finish April 20 in Spain

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