Masks will still be needed in some indoor settings. / sur

After almost 700 days in force Spain's mandatory mask rule to be largely dropped from Wednesday

The Spanish government has approved a move to place the onus on the population in general to behave responsibly, but has stipulated some situations where masks will still have to be worn

ÁLVARO SOTO Madrid

On 20 May 2020, during the worst days of the coronavirus pandemic, the Spanish government decreed that face masks were compulsory. Now, 699 days later, this most symbolic element of the fight against Covid-19 will no longer be obligatory apart from some exceptions. The move was approved by the government today, Tuesday, and will come into force tomorrow once it has been published in the Official State Gazette, the BOE.

Masks will no longer be compulsory in the workplace, although the government says it is up to the employers whether to insist that staff wear them or not, depending on their evaluation of the risk.

"Covid is still with us"

“This is a step further in the evolution of the pandemic. Covid-19 is still with us, but it is evolving in a positive manner and the indicators show a low level of infection in general in most of the country. We are continuing to be prudent but progressive,” said the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias.

She also confirmed the exceptions: masks must still be worn in medical centres, hospitals (except by patients who have been admitted) and services such as pharmacies and blood transfusion centres; in care homes (not by the residents, but by the staff and visitors) and on public transport including taxis and minicabs. Masks will not have to be worn in stations or on platforms, according to the government guidelines.

Nor will teachers or pupils have to wear them in schools, or people attending events such as concerts or sports matches.

So from Wednesday the decision whether to wear a mask will in most cases be up to the individual and the minister called once again for “responsible use” among the vulnerable population (over-60s, the immuno-depressed, pregnant women and vulnerable teachers), in places where crowds gather and in certain family reunions.