Spain has finally reached the end of the use of masks in hospitals, health centers, pharmacies, physiotherapy clinics, and dentists, the only places where it was still mandatory since they stopped being used on public transport on February 8.
The Spanish government has decreed the end of the use of masks, and starting next Tuesday, June 27, it will become a recommendation instead of a requirement.
Spain is no longer one of the few countries in Europe that maintains the mandatory use of face masks. In neighboring Portugal, it is no longer mandated, in Italy neither, and in France, it depends on the hospital. Health and the autonomous communities unanimously made this decision in the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System, so that Royal Decree 65/2023, of February 7, will be modified so that the mask is no longer mandatory to pass to be a recommendation.
Despite the pandemic lasting three and a half years, this step towards mask freedom was taken during a time of stability in COVID-19 cases. According to the latest report from last Friday, the cumulative 14-day incidence in people over 60 years of age is 59 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Additionally, the beds occupied by COVID patients represent 2.7% of the total, some of the lowest figures of the entire pandemic.
The decision to eliminate the mandatory use of masks has brought mixed reactions from the Spanish population. While some see it as a step towards normalcy, others are more cautious about the measure and its potential impact on public health. Many Spaniards have gotten used to wearing a mask and feel safer with its use, even if it’s not mandated to do so.
However, the elimination of mandatory masks in Spain is in line with the decline in COVID-19 cases and the significant vaccine progress made in the country. According to the latest data, approximately 50% of the Spanish population has been vaccinated with at least one dose, and 32% have been fully vaccinated. With the increasing number of vaccinated individuals and decreasing COVID-19 cases, the mandatory use of masks was seen by many as no longer necessary.
This is an essential step for Spain towards returning to normalcy. Before the pandemic, wearing masks was not a common practice in the country, and now as life gets back on track, the elimination of mandatory masks is a sign that Spain is moving forward. The decision was taken unanimously by the autonomous communities, and the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System was a testament to the country’s commitment to overcoming COVID-19.
To conclude, the elimination of mandatory masks in Spain marks a significant milestone in the fight against COVID-19. As the country returns to normalcy, the decision is sure to have a resounding effect on other European nations with similar mandates. However, as with all measures, it is important to be cautious and keep the public on board the fight against COVID-19. Implementing proper safety measures and acknowledging the role the individual plays in stopping the spread of the virus is imperitive.