Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s recent announcement that face masks will no longer be compulsory from Saturday June 26th has been met with a mixture of relief and apprehension by the public, regional authorities and medical experts.
Some are excited by the prospect of being able to breathe fresh air outdoors for the first time since May 21st 2020, while some analysts and regions consider the move too hasty, especially in light of the increasing prevalence of the Delta variant in Spain.
The measure has now been approved by Spain’s Cabinet of Ministers on Thursday and by the national Health Ministry on Wednesday. Here’s what we know so far about when and where masks can be taken off in public and when and where they still have to be worn.
Masks are still required in all indoor public and closed spaces, which includes shops, cinemas, theatres, libraries and museums.
The use of a mask will still be necessary on all forms of public transport, except when the transportation is open, such as on the deck of a boat – but only when you can maintain a distance of 1.5 metres away from others.
Busy outdoor spaces
Although officially masks will not be required outside from June 26th, they will be needed in busy areas, such as shopping streets. On June 23rd Health Minister Carolina Darias said during a press conference that masks would still be obligatory outside if a distance of 1.5 metres could not be maintained.
Masks will not be mandatory outdoors “as long as a safety distance of 1.5 meters is respected,” she said.
“But it will be mandatory if there are crowds of people, which prevent maintaining the safety distance.
All the indicators tell us that we are on the right track and with the very high vaccination rates, it is advisable to begin to introduce flexibility with respect to the mandatory use of masks,” Darias continued.
This means that you will still need to carry a mask around with you, just in case you come across a busy area and have to put it on.
Is this the same across all regions?
Although the rules are for the whole of Spain, each region may change and adapt the mask rules how they see fit.
In Andalusia, where the Covid incidence rate is the highest in the country, the Minister of Health and Families of the Junta of Andalucía, Jesús Aguirre said on June 21st that wearing a mask outdoors is still “recommended”, even if the central government has said it’s not mandatory.
Asturias is also still recommending the use of a mask outdoors. “It will be required outdoors in certain situations,” Asturian government spokesperson Melania Álvarez said during a recent press conference.
The president of the government of Galicia Alberto Núñez Feijóo insisted that the news did not mean the end to masks and that those in the region “should always have one in their pocket”.
Do I have to wear a mask on the beach?
No, wearing a mask on the beach is not compulsory if you are with others from your household and can maintain a distance of 1.5 metres, otherwise you are required to wear one.
Wearing a mask is not necessary however when doing activities that are incompatible with wearing one, such as swimming in the sea and eating or drinking while seated on the sand.
Will masks be required at events in Spain?
Masks may still be required at big outdoor events such as concerts, festivals and shows, where a distance of 1.5 metres cannot be maintained. However, if you are seated and the chairs have been spaced out, then you will be allowed to remove your mask.
What are the consequences of not abiding by these new mask rules?
If you don’t comply with these new laws and go mask-free in outdoor places where you cannot keep 1.5 metres away from others, then the police are able to issue you with a €100 fine.
Where else are masks no longer obligatory in Spain?
There are a handful of places where you don’t have to wear a mask indoors in Spain. Currently they include care homes and other institutions where at least 80 percent of residents have been vaccinated. Staff and visitors at these locations will still be required to wear a face mask, however.
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