Spain drops mandatory masks on public transport

Spain drops mandatory masks on public transport

From Wednesday the face covering will only be required in hospitals, health centres, pharmacies, dental clinics, a few other specialised care centres and for workers and visitors in nursing homes - but not the residents



Tuesday, 7 February 2023


The end of the mandatory wearing of masks on public transport in Spain, approved this Tuesday (7 February) by the Cabinet, coincides with the best epidemiological situation since the coronavirus pandemic began three years ago.

Both the cumulative incidence rate for the virus and the hospitalisation of Covid-19 patients are at the lowest levels in the last two years and are close to the lows that were reached in the summer of 2020, just after the spring home confinement order.

The relaxation of the measure will come into force this Wednesday, when the Official State Gazette (BOE) publishes the modification of the Royal Decree of 19 April, 2022.

"We are in a moment of great stability and with a clear downward trend," highlighted the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, to justify the removal of masks on buses, trains and subways, but also in opticians, audiometry and orthopaedic centres. This element of protection will only continue to be mandatory in hospitals, health centres, pharmacies, dental clinics, assisted human reproduction centres, voluntary termination of pregnancy centres, other specialised care centres and in nursing homes, but not for those who live there, only for workers and visitors.

One exception

For the rest of the population, the new regulations only establish one exception in which the mask could continue to be mandatory, the workplace, if the occupational risk prevention services so decide. But this possibility seems unlikely, in most companies, in the current pandemic situation.

"As in the previous regulations, we leave it open and available in the event of an outbreak, for example, but the general rule is that it is not necessary," the minister clarified.

Pandemic indicators

At the moment, the pandemic indicators show a very favourable scenario in Spain. The cumulative incidence rate among those over 60 years of age, the only age group that has been measured since April of last year, stood last Friday (the date of publication of the last Ministry of Health report) at 50.76 infections per 100,000, its lowest level since October 2021. Something similar has happened in hospitals. Patients infected with Covid represent 1.64% of all hospitalised patients, the lowest number since November 2021, and in intensive care units they represent 1.70%, the lowest levels since the start of the health emergency, in March 2020.

In this new scenario, the mandatory nature of mask wearing is replaced by a recommendation. And Health minister Darias has asked those "who are carrying a respiratory virus or live with vulnerable people" to maintain the use of the protection.

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