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FACE MASKS

Spain approves law that ends indoor mask rule on April 20th

The Spanish Cabinet on Tuesday passed the highly anticipated decree which will allow people in Spain to no longer have to wear face masks in most indoor settings from Wednesday April 20th.

Spain approves law that ends indoor mask rule on April 20th
After two long years, Spaniards will no longer need to wear masks in indoor public settings, a Spanish royal decree has confirmed. (Photo by DESIREE MARTIN / AFP)

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 (airplanes, buses, trains, metros, taxis and ferries, the latter if a 1.5 metre distance can’t be kept indoors.)

READ MORE: Where will you still need to wear a mask indoors in Spain?

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.

READ ALSO: Is Spain ready to get rid of masks indoors?

“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.

Have your say in our poll below: Will you still wear a mask indoors in Spain?

 
 

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FACE MASKS

Spain calls for return of face masks indoors as Covid cases rise

Spain’s Health Ministry has recommended Spaniards put their masks back on in indoor public settings, calling for "caution" as the seventh coronavirus wave sees cases and hospitalisations rise across the country.

Spain calls for return of face masks indoors as Covid cases rise

Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias on Friday recommended people wear face masks again in indoor public settings as Covid cases and hospitalisations in late June and early July returned to levels not seen since February 2022.

Darias called for “caution” and “responsible mask usage” at a time of increased travel in Spain and with many doctors and nurses booking off time for their summer holidays.

Similar sentiments about the return of face masks indoors have already been shared by the health authorities in some of Spain’s other regions, including Catalonia and Madrid. 

Catalan Health Minister Josep Maria Argimon recommended that those recovering from Covid should continue to wear a mask due to the increase in Covid patients admitted to the ICU in the region, which has increased from 26 to 46 in the space of three weeks.  

Madrid Vice President Enrique Ossorio also suggested that masks should be reintroduced in certain situations, due to the rise of cases seen in the region. Masks should be worn by “vulnerable people, those who are immunosuppressed and those who are pregnant,” he argued.

Ossorio also recommended that the use of face masks be extended to enclosed public spaces and large events.

After two years of compulsory usage in indoor public settings, Spanish authorities lifted the indoor face mask rule on April 20th, having already removed the requirement for outdoors on February 10th

READ ALSO:

Spain’s Health Minister also urged that those aged 80 and over should receive a fourth Covid vaccine dose, but has not specified when this will happen, even though this was already been approved in early June.   

READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

“The Health Ministry is going to continue working hand in hand with the advice of experts who’ve introduced an exemplary vaccination strategy,” Darias explained.

On Friday July 1st, 10,249 people were in hospital with Covid-19 in Spain, a figure not seen since February 17th 2022. As for ICU admissions, there were 449 Covid patients in total.

Madrid currently has a fortnightly infection rate of 1,500 cases per 100,00 inhabitants for people aged 60 and over, as Spain stopped counting each and every Covid-19 cases last March and focused only on serious infections and those affecting the elderly. 

That’s why experts are referring to this seventh coronavirus wave as the “silent” one, with no way of truly knowing how many people are getting infected or reinfected in Spain. 

Darias said that the Covid situation is being monitored carefully and that rise in cases is mainly down to the new omicron sub-variants BA4 and BA5, which are more transmissible but are milder than previous variants.

The Minister added that the Spanish government has provided its regions with medicines that are “very important” in the treatment of Covid, such as the antiviral Paxlovid, of which 344,000 sets of pills have been purchased, which help prevent an infected person from developing a serious illness, as well as Evusheld to protect people who do not generate their own antibodies. 

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