Tomorrow (Wednesday) we say goodbye to having to wear masks in most situations in Spain. Spain now joins several other European countries where masks are no longer mandatory, such as in, France, Germany and the Netherlands.
Some countries, such as Portugal or Italy, will continue to require a mask, although they plan to eliminate the obligation in May.
Some health experts have criticised the move, saying removing the obligation to wear masks now is ‘premature’ and that they should remain in place in public places, especially in instances where a lot of people are congregating.
The details of the Royal Decree (to be approved today, Tuesday by the council of Ministers) are not yet confirmed but some of the main guidelines have already been made known.
When do I have to wear a mask?
Although the new law eliminates the mandatory use of masks indoors, there are some exceptions. It will continue to be required in the following circumstances:
Hospitals and ‘social’ health centres (day centres, residences for the elderly…). Family members, as well as patients when they are in common areas, must continue to wear the mask. The only exception is nursing homes where, as the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, has outlined, residents will not have to use it, since it is “their home”.
Pharmacies, since they are considered health establishments to which vulnerable people go.
Public transport (bus, metro, tram, plane, train, taxi, chauffeured vehicle…).
If I have tested positive, can I go without a mask?
No. People who test positive must continue to apply preventive measures. This means that social interactions should be reduced as much as possible, wearing a mask at all times and maintaining adequate hand hygiene during the 10 days after the onset of symptoms.
Are masks compulsory at school?
Face masks will no longer be mandatory in schools, secondary schools or other educational centres. The Ministry of Health does recommend that vulnerable personnel, such as teachers or administrative staff, keep their masks on when the safety distance cannot be maintained.
Can my boss make me wear a mask at work?
Yes. Although masks will no longer be compulsory in closed spaces, by law, the decision to abolish them in each company will be the responsibility of those responsible for occupational health in each workplace. It is recommended that each company carry out a specific risk assessment and then decide. It is also recommended that masks be worn “whenever the work must be carried out at an interpersonal distance of less than 1.5 meters and adequate ventilation of the space cannot be guaranteed.”
What about shops?
Here, the right of admission comes into play. Although the end of indoor masks affects all public spaces, such as supermarkets, theatres, restaurants or beauty salons, those responsible for each business will be able to decide whether to ask that they be worn or not.
For everywhere else, there is a recommendation of responsible use, for example, wearing your mask voluntarily in crowded places.