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COVID-19 RULES

Your answers: Will you continue wearing a mask indoors in Spain?

As masks are no longer required indoors in most situations in Spain, we decided to find out how many of you will continue wearing one and how many will not. Here's what you had to say on the issue.

wearing a mask while shopping
Your answers - will you wear a mask indoors or not? Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

After exactly 700 days of being required to wear a mask indoors, Spaniards and foreigners in Spain were finally allowed to decide whether to wear a face covering or not in most indoor public settings after the rules were changed on Wednesday April 20th. 

We looked at if Spain is really ready to get rid of masks indoors, by analysing the social effects and finding out what the experts had to say, but we also wanted to find out what our readers had to say about it. 

A total of 232 people responded to our survey asking readers if they would continue to wear a mask in indoor public spaces in Spain. 

READ ALSO: How masks became an integral part of life Spain 

Out of those, 46.1 percent said that they won’t continue wearing their masks and ‘will only do so when it’s required’, such as on public transport. 25.9 percent or around a quarter said that they will continue to wear their masks indoors ‘all or most of the time’ and 28 percent said that ‘it will depend on the place and situation’ as to whether they decide to wear one or not.

Out of the people who said they would continue to wear a mask indoors all or most of the time, the majority cited health issues or fear of contracting the virus as their reason. Readers listed issues such as asthma, fear of being particularly vulnerable to Covid because of old age and pregnancy as reasons that they will continue to wear them. Some people were also worried about vaccines not being effective, the emergence of new variants and long Covid. 

 

One reader summed up the sentiments perfectly by saying they would continue to wear one “Just because it is no hassle to do so and it is safer for myself and others. When it becomes clear that covid really has ‘changed’ into a common virus I might reconsider. But not yet”.

Another said: “It’s not hard at all (except for the glasses steaming up, but I’ve switched to contacts). Getting ill isn’t pleasant or practical, especially for the self-employed, and I haven’t even caught a cold in two years. It’s a visual reminder to be careful. And my wife is pregnant”.

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

Just under half of the respondents said that now masks are no longer required indoors, they won’t be wearing them. The majority of these people claimed that masks don’t work in stopping the spread of the virus. Many thought that masks weren’t necessary anymore, while a couple of people simply stated that they don’t like wearing them.

One reader commented that “The social damage of non-visual communication is far higher than the protection of a mask indoors. Masks are making us humans numb”, citing social reasons for not wanting to wear one anymore.

Another added that “We need to engage our immune systems and live life”, clearly fed up with all the restrictions placed on us over the past two years.

Finally, 28 percent of respondents said they would decide on whether to wear a mask or not depending on the situation. Most people said that they would continue wearing them in crowded indoor venues or places where a distance between people couldn’t be maintained.

One reader explained a sensible approach: “If the indoor setting is very crowded ie. a cinema or a concert then yes, I will continue to wear one. If shops or shopping centres are particularly busy or congested, then I would wear one too, in order to help prevent others from getting Covid”.

Member comments

  1. Astonished at the number of people who still think wearing a mask will prevent you from getting COVID. Wearing a mask will help prevent others from getting it but if everyone else is not wearing one it will have zilch effect on you getting it. I will be wearing mine to help others & hopefully others will do the same but I doubt it.

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COVID-19 ALERT

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

A resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe, this time driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron subvariants, is once again threatening to disrupt people's summer plans.

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

Several Western European nations have recently recorded their highest daily case numbers in months, due in part to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The increase in cases has spurred calls for increased vigilance across a continent that has relaxed most if not all coronavirus restrictions.

The first resurgence came in May in Portugal, where BA.5 propelled a wave that hit almost 30,000 cases a day at the beginning of June. That wave has since started to subside, however.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

Italy recorded more than 62,700 cases on Tuesday, nearly doubling the number from the previous week, the health ministry said. 

Germany meanwhile reported more than 122,000 cases on Tuesday. 

France recorded over 95,000 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily number since late April, representing a 45-percent increase in just a week.

Austria this Wednesday recorded more than 10,000 for the first time since April.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Cases have also surged in Britain, where there has been a seven-fold increase in Omicron reinfection, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS blamed the rise on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but also said Covid fell to the sixth most common cause of death in May, accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales.

BA.5 ‘taking over’

Mircea Sofonea, an epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier, said Covid’s European summer wave could be explained by two factors.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

One is declining immunity, because “the protection conferred by an infection or a vaccine dose decreases in time,” he told AFP.

The other came down to the new subvariants BA.4 and particularly BA.5, which are spreading more quickly because they appear to be both more contagious and better able to escape immunity.

Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said BA.5 was “taking over” because it is 10 percent more contagious than BA.2.

“We are faced with a continuous evolution of the virus, which encounters people who already have antibodies — because they have been previously infected or vaccinated — and then must find a selective advantage to be able to sneak in,” he said.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in France

But are the new subvariants more severe?

“Based on limited data, there is no evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 being associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating variants BA.1 and BA.2,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said last week.

But rising cases can result in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, the ECDC warned.

Could masks be making a comeback over summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Alain Fischer, who coordinates France’s pandemic vaccine strategy, warned that the country’s hospitalisations had begun to rise, which would likely lead to more intensive care admissions and eventually more deaths.

However, in Germany, virologist Klaus Stohr told the ZDF channel that “nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units in hospitals”.

Return of the mask? 

The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant” by maintaining testing and surveillance systems.

“It is expected that additional booster doses will be needed for those groups most at risk of severe disease, in anticipation of future waves,” it added.

Faced with rising cases, last week Italy’s government chose to extend a requirement to wear medical grade FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30.

“I want to continue to recommend protecting yourself by getting a second booster shot,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who recently tested positive for Covid.

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

Fischer said France had “clearly insufficient vaccination rates” and that a second booster shot was needed.

Germany’s government is waiting on expert advice on June 30 to decide whether to reimpose mandatory mask-wearing rules indoors.

The chairman of the World Medical Association, German doctor Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has recommended a “toolbox” against the Covid wave that includes mask-wearing, vaccination and limiting the number of contacts.

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