THE SPANISH government announced today that face masks will no longer be obligatory on public transport some time from February 7 onward. The Cabinet will approve the end of the requirement that day, but the coverings will still be required in healthcare settings and pharmacies.
‘We have a very stable epidemiological situation,’ said Health Minister Carolina Darias on Thursday when she made the announcement, in reference to the Covid-19 pandemic.
She added that the ministry will next week take the measure to the Interterritorial Health Committee, which brings together Spain’s regional health systems, in order to cover the ‘administrative’ requirements.
The minister did not specify the exact date that the Cabinet’s decision will come into force, but such decisions are usually included in the Official State Bulletin (BOE) the next day, meaning February 8 could see the official end to the requirement.
Industries such as the travel sector have long been calling on the government to do away with the use of face masks on transport in Spain, which is one of the few European Union countries that still has any kind of coronavirus restrictions in place.
The epidemiological situation has been stable in Spain for months now, despite the arrival of winter, increased social mixing at Christmas and no other measures in place apart from masks.
Experts have also been pointing to the futility of the use of masks on public transport if they are not required in other enclosed spaces, such as cinemas, restaurants and nightclubs.
Fernando Simón, the government’s chief epidemiologist and director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts (CCAES), said on Wednesday that Spain’s population will have to be ‘much more responsible’ once the obligatory masks are gone.
‘When we have symptoms we should use them in a responsible way, and also if we are in risk or vulnerable groups as well,’ he said to journalists after a round table in Zaragoza. ‘We need to understand that our health affects others, above all when there is an infectious disease going around.’