Spain set to drop indoor face mask requirement
Rahul Pathak in Madrid
Spain ended mandatory outdoor mask use in February. /Fernando Calvo/AFP

Spain ended mandatory outdoor mask use in February. /Fernando Calvo/AFP

Spain's government will drop the requirement to wear face masks indoors, except in hospitals and on public transport, from April 20. The decision has been taken due to a decline in COVID-19 infections.

"Thanks to the very high level of immunization which the population has, the epidemiological situation is currently very favorable," Health Minister Carolina Darias told reporters as she announced the measure.

Advisors recommended ending the indoor face mask restriction after the Easter week ends on April 17. The government will pass a decree to end it during the cabinet meeting on April 19, she said.

The decree will come into effect when it is published in the official government gazette the following day, she said after talks with regional health officials in the city of Toledo near Madrid. 

Face masks will still be required inside health centers, hospitals and retirement homes as well as on public transportation, Darias said.

Spain, one of the hardest-hit nations during the first wave of the pandemic in early 2020, stopped mandatory outdoor mask use in February.

The country first made it compulsory to wear face masks in an outdoor setting in May 2020, but lifted it in June last year. 

It introduced the measure again just before Christmas as it experienced a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant. 

Last month, in a shift towards treating the virus as an endemic illness like flu, Spain ended the requirement to self-isolate for people with mild cases of COVID-19.

It also stopped testing people with symptoms or who were in close contact with an infected person. Testing now focuses on vulnerable people, including those over 60, caregivers, pregnant women and those who are immunocompromized.

In a similar move earlier this year, England also relaxed its COVID-19 restrictions in January as it dropped the requirement for mandatory COVID-19 passports for entering nightclubs and large events. People were also no longer obligated to wear face masks, although they were advised to wear them in indoor or crowded settings.

Spain has one of the world's highest COVID-19 vaccination rates, with 92.4 percent of those over the age of 12 fully vaccinated against the virus.

The country has so far recorded 102,747 deaths from COVID -19.

Source(s): AFP

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