Covid-19: Spain to decide if masks should finally be scrapped in hospitals

The Local Spain
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Covid-19: Spain to decide if masks should finally be scrapped in hospitals
Could the mask rule in health centres be dropped in Spain? Photo by JAIME REINA / AFP

Spain's Health Ministry and the country's regions are meeting to decide whether to scrap the last remaining Covid rule in the country - the mandatory use of masks in hospitals, health centres, pharmacies and care homes.


The Ministry of Health, along with representatives of each autonomous community in Spain, are due to hold a meeting of the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System (CISNS) on Friday June 23rd to address whether the mandatory use of masks in hospitals, health centres, care homes and pharmacies should continue.

Health Minister José Miñones recently assured the public that the final decision on whether or not to remove the final mask rules would be down to experts from Spain’s Coordination Centre for Health Alerts and Emergencies.

"It has to be done in a rigorous manner, a serious manner," he said.

What’s not clear yet is whether the mask rule withdrawal will be "prolonged, definitive or phased".

Nothing is certain yet and no indication has been given as to whether the rule will be applied to all aforementioned health centres, or if the requirement will still apply in certain situations, such as to people who are sick with an infectious illness. 

Miñones has defended the continued use of masks, particularly to protect the elderly from respiratory viruses.

"We have to think about day centres or where our parents, grandparents and elders are, and whether the rule should be withdrawn there or not," he added.


The acting regional Health Minister in Madrid Enrique Ruiz Escudero is against the meeting.

“Calling an Interterritorial Council meeting at this time is a really reckless… in a week new councillors will be elected”, Escudero said regarding the results of recent regional and local elections which saw a clear shift away from the ruling Socialists.

With general elections to be held on July 23rd, he believes the national government is only promising the public the end of the face mask rule to try to win votes.

"Just as this decision could be made now, it could have been made in February with the same epidemiological data, so we're not surprised because it's all political tactics,” the right-wing minister said.  

Masks first became mandatory in all indoor and outdoor spaces in Spain in May 2020 as the country emerged from a two-month national lockdown in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. The outdoor mask rule was scrapped in February 2022 and in April 2022 it was the turn of the indoor mask rule, with the only exceptions being health centres, care homes and pharmacies.

Regardless of the outcome of Friday's meeting, Spain's national government will have the final say on this last existing Covid restriction before it goes through the courts and becomes law.

This means that you may still have to wait a bit to remove your mask when you visit the doctor, the dentist or go to the pharmacy, especially keeping in mind that the focus is now on Spain's general elections on July 23rd. 


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