The Minister of Health is informing all regional councilors this afternoon about the new regulations for the use of masks against COVID-19. Health sources specify to elDiario.es that the new rule will consist in that the masks may not be used outdoors as long as there is an interpersonal distance of 1.5 meters between non-cohabitants. They will remain mandatory in all closed spaces for public use, or open to the public, and also in all public means of transport. "It will be important that we remember to carry it by hand," they point out from Health. This is in case, even if you do not enter any space, at some point there are crowds and you cannot keep your distance, or if you have to use public transport.
Goodbye to the mask on the street: the challenges of the end of a stricter measure in Spain than in many other countries
The new regulations will be in force as of this Saturday, June 26. As El País has advanced, it will also exempt residents in social health centers and their workers from the use if more than 80% have received the complete schedule of the COVID-19 vaccine. The communication from the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, to the regional councilors in the Interterritorial Health Council is a procedure, since the rule will be approved tomorrow, in the Council of Ministers, by the Government, as announced by President Pedro Sánchez last week. Some councilors, such as that of Andalusia, had been upset that the regulation is finally assumed by the Government of Spain tomorrow, and it has not been decided with the autonomous communities.
Public Health experts agree that, with 31% of the Spanish population with a complete regimen, among them almost 100% of those over 70, and with almost all those over 50 with at least one dose, this is the right time for this relaxation. But it is also necessary to stress that this is not the end of the pandemic, nor of the mask as a preventive measure. The public health challenge, they say, is that people continue to use it as a measure at appropriate times, such as public transportation or indoors. Outdoors at a distance it has never been useful per se, assumes the scientific community, because a contagion in these circumstances is almost impossible; It was thus imposed so that citizens would get used to using them at all times.
Health has been testing how to take this step since May. Several communities, such as Galicia, Catalunya or Castilla-La Mancha, had lobbied for it. The spokesman Fernando Simón transferred this Monday that "if someone wants to continue wearing the mask, welcome. That you can take it off does not mean that you have to take it off, if someone feels that there are too many people around them or there is some risk of transmission , he puts it on ". The rule is reversible, although Health does not expect that it will have to be imposed again because of this pandemic.
The mask has been the symbol of the COVID-19 crisis in Europe and America, societies not used to it. On Thursday, May 21, 2020, masks were made mandatory in Spain, through a ministerial order published in the BOE. It was, in principle, while the state of alarm lasted, but susceptible to lengthening, as it was, with the royal decree of new normality. The regulations in Spain have been the strictest in the European Union and many other countries affected by the disease. The obligation to take it down the street began last summer when several communities decreed it that way for all cases, whether or not there was distance outdoors, because they had the competence to do so. The exceptions were limited to when it was eaten or drank. The last to incorporate it were Madrid and the Canary Islands. By the end of July it was already imposed throughout the territory. And no Community lifted that measure while they were competent. Then came the state regulation, with an amendment from the PSOE last March that made it mandatory at all times.
In our environment, practically only Italy and France had similar rules of use at almost all times in public places, including outdoors. In Italy it has been like this since October. Until then, when the second wave started there, it was only so in closed spaces and in some particularly hit regions, such as Lazio. In France it began to be in summer, first in some large cities. In that country, it was no longer mandatory on the street this past Thursday. In other countries, such as Germany or the United Kingdom, it has never had to be carried outdoors at a distance.