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Masks still compulsory on planes in Spain despite confusion

The Local Spain
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Masks still compulsory on planes in Spain despite confusion
face masks rules in Spain are exactly the same as they have been since last April. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images/AFP

An outdated announcement by Spain’s Transport Minister on Thursday gave journalists the impression that masks would cease to be mandatory on aeroplanes, but the Spanish government has rushed to clarify what the country’s mask rules for public transport are. 

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Spain’s Transport Minister Raquel Sánchez on Thursday spoke in the Spanish Parliament about the rules relating to mask wearing for air travel, in effect regurgitating a change to legislation which was passed last April.

“Regarding air travel, based on the evolution of the Covid-19 health emergency, the royal decree eliminates the mandatory nature of the measures at airports, which will instead become recommendations,” Sánchez said.   

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“We’re referring to mask wearing, temperature checks, social distancing, and with these modifications, we follow the lead of our neighbouring countries, removing obstacles and therefore helping the transport and tourism industry.”

The fact that Sánchez did not use the past tense to refer to the apparent changes gave Spanish journalists the impression that she must have been referring to masks on planes, even though this was not explicitly stated, as these are the only places relating to air travel where masks have continued to be mandatory for the past five months.  

However, the Spanish government has been quick to clarify that even though their Transport Minister spoke of the legislation as if it were new, the rules remain unchanged. 

In fact, Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias had stressed only two days earlier that face masks would continue to be compulsory on public transport, be it inside buses, ferries, taxis, planes, trams or trains. 

"We are approaching the final stage of the pandemic, although with great caution," Darias said, adding that “if there is a change” to mask legislation, it would be based on “what the experts say”.

Therefore, face masks rules in Spain are exactly the same as they have been since last April. 

They are not compulsory in any outdoor public settings. They are not compulsory either in the vast majority of indoor settings, with the exception of hospitals, pharmacies, care homes, other health-related centres and on public transport. 

In general terms, that means that you don’t have to wear a mask at the airport or train station, but you do have to wear a mask on the plane or train. 

The article below offers a detailed breakdown of the rules. 

REMINDER: What are Spain’s specific mask rules for travel?

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