REMINDER: What are the rules and exceptions for wearing face masks outdoors in Spain?

woman jogging face mask spain
People who are doing sport individually in Spain don't need to wear a face masks outdoors. Photo: Gabriel BOUYS / AFP
Face masks are once again compulsory outdoors in Spain as the country tries to curb sky-high infections during this ‘sixth wave’ of the pandemic. But what are the actual rules and exceptions for wearing face masks outdoors this time around?

After meeting with regional leaders last Wednesday, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced a last-minute decision to reimpose compulsory mask wearing outdoors in Spain starting on December 24th 2021, in light of the fast increase in Omicron coronavirus infections during Spain’s sixth wave.

So six months after the measure was shelved last summer, it’s now back in place again for the country’s 47 million inhabitants and the millions of tourists Spain receives every month, even as the pandemic rages on. 

As could be expected, the return of the face mask rule has had its fair share of criticism from the public and health experts, but people are once again abiding by this legislation and respecting the rules. 

When do I have to wear a mask outdoors in Spain?

Under the new rules, you must wear a face masks outdoors even if social distancing norms (1.5 metres between people) are being observed.

According to the legislation, it is mandatory “in any outdoor space for public use or that is open to the public,” which implies on the street, in parks and, as a general rule, in any open space, except for certain exceptions we’ll detail below.

As Minister for Health Carolina Darias described it: “every time we go out, we have to leave with our mask on.”

When can I take my mask off outdoors in Spain?

There are a two exceptions: face masks are not considered necessary outdoors  “during individual sports” (for example, going for a jog or a cycle on your own) or “during activities that are not sporting in nature, but are carried out in natural spaces”, such as hanging out at the beach or hiking in the forest. 

These exceptions are contingent on the 1.5 metre social distancing rules being maintained.

The face mask can also be removed outdoors in Spain by those travelling by boat, an exception that was included in the previous law. However, the new rules make masks mandatory below deck, even if social distancing is maintained.

Face masks will not be mandatory inside residences, centres for people with disabilities, or similar homes, provided that the vaccination rate is 80 percent or higher with the full schedule and booster doses.

External visitors and workers at these centers are still required to wear face masks.

From what age do Spain’s mask rules apply?

Children under six years old are exempt from wearing face masks in Spain, as are people with respiratory diseases that can be aggravated by the use of the mask, and those who cannot remove it themselves.

How long will the rules be in place?

Government describes this as a “temporary” measure , which will be in force for “the essential time until the current epidemiological situation improves”.

What happens if I don’t wear a mask outdoors in Spain?

According to Spanish law, failure to wear a face mask in public spaces – including outside on the street – will be considered a minor offense and is punishable with a ‘multa’ (fine) of up to €100.

What are the face mask rules for indoor spaces in Spain?

Logically, you must still wear a face mask in indoor spaces such as shops and other indoor public spaces as well as public transport, as has been the rule in Spain since May 2020.

Although you don’t need to wear a mask in bars or restaurants when eating or drinking, it is recommended that you wear one inside when not consuming, especially if social distancing measures can’t be observed. 

If you’re in a car with people who you don’t live with, all passengers will be expected to wear a mask. 

Member comments

  1. this is nonsense.
    masks don’t work.
    no country who has mandated masks has seen a reduction in any of the covid indicators as a consequence of those mandates.
    this is just political theatre

    1. There is ample evidence that masks do work, if of the requisite grade and worn properly. Most outdoor mask-wearing is frankly silly, though given that the ‘average’ member of the public can’t be trusted to judge whether the crowding they find themselves in warrants it or not, we end up with blanket mandates like this.

      If you’re interested, read this BMJ article on masks and COVID-19, or at least consider its key messages:

      – The precautionary principle states we should sometimes act without definitive evidence, just in case
      – Whether masks will reduce transmission of covid-19 in the general public is contested
      – Even limited protection could prevent some transmission of covid-19 and save lives
      – Because covid-19 is such a serious threat, wearing masks in public should be advised

      1. Again, mask MANDATES don’t work.

        People that wear masks voluntarily most likely reduce the spread somewhat. In the long term it is irrelevant.

        But forcing people to wear masks does not work, and any comparison between states or countries with opposite mask mandate policies but similar overall characteristics will show that there is no measurable impact.

        You can use all the precaucionary principle you wish. But a baloon with 1 hole will deflate as much as a baloon with 4 holes.

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