For the first time in 700 days, people in Spain will be able to decide whether or not to wear a mask inside a bar, restaurant, shop or cinema on Wednesday.
The changes to the country’s mask rules, which were first announced on April 6th after weeks of speculation, were fully approved and confirmed by Spain’s Council of Ministers on Tuesday, April 19th.
As with other royal decrees, the new law comes into force the following day upon publication in Spain’s state bulletin (BOE), which on this occasion will be published on Wednesday, April 20th.
The rule change marks one of the most symbolic moments of the pandemic in Spain, with all other Covid-19 rules (quarantines, curfews, health passes etc) long gone.
“Face masks are no longer mandatory, except for certain exceptions,” Darias said at the press conference on Tuesday following the Spanish Cabinet meeting which approved the law.
These exceptions are the same as those anticipated earlier by Spanish health authorities. Face coverings will still be mandatory in:
- Hospitals and other health-related establishments (dental clinics, pharmacies, physiotherapy practices etc)
- Care homes for visitors and workers
- All forms of public transport (aeroplanes, buses, trains, metros, taxis and ferries, the latter if a 1.5-metre distance can’t be kept indoors.)
However, it will no longer be necessary to wear a mask inside bars, cafés, restaurants, nightclubs, cinemas, theatres, sports stadiums, concerts, shopping centres, supermarkets, gyms and schools.
In workplaces, it will be employers who decide whether staff should continue wearing masks although the “general rule” is that face coverings are no longer mandatory.
Spain’s Health Ministry recommends that those over 60, immunosuppressed people, pregnant women and people in their company continue with “responsible use” of face masks indoors.
For the rest of the population, health authorities also advise exercising “common sense” and “caution”, recommending that they still wear masks in poorly-ventilated or crowded indoor spaces.
But except for a handful of places where masks continue to be mandatory, from Wednesday April 20th 2022 it will be up to ordinary citizens to decide when and where to wear a mask indoors.
“We’re recovering some normality and are able to show our faces and smiles again,” Darias said, whilst stressing that masks “should continue to be among us as an element of protection, especially for vulnerable people”.
There has been a slight increase in Spain’s fortnightly infection rate following the Easter holidays – currently standing at 466 cases per 100,000 people – although Spain’s Health Ministry no longer does an exhaustive recount of daily infections as it did previously.
“We’re not dropping our guard,” Spain’s Health Minister assured.
The removal of the indoor face mask rule is likely to provide clearer insight to where Spain stands in terms of a possible seventh coronavirus wave, or if the country can start a positive new chapter after two difficult years.
Source: The Local