Spain’s Health Minister, Carolina Darias, said this Friday that from next Thursday she expects the use of masks outdoors may no longer be mandatory, once the measure has been published in the Official State Gazette (BOE) next Wednesday, following approval one day before at the Council of Ministers.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

“If everything goes well, which is what we hope, it will be published in the Official State Gazette on Wednesday so that it comes into force as of Thursday of next week,” said Darias, who emphasised this change of course was due to the positive evolution of epidemiological indicators.

Despite the fact that two days ago Congress endorsed maintaining mandatory masks outside, after approving an extension of the decree originally approved by the Government in December; just one week later the Government will now eliminate the requirement in the Council of Ministers, following a debate on Monday within the Inter-territorial Council of the National Health System.

The announcement, was made just after the signing of an agreement for the acquisition of AstraZeneca antibody drugs against Covid-19, Darias described it as a “prudential measure during a time of strict necessity until the indicators suggest a different measure”.

The Ministry of Health and AstraZeneca have formalised an agreement for the supply and distribution of Evusheld, a combination drug of two monoclonal antibodies (tixagevimab and cilgavimab), indicated for the passive immunisation of patients with a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and of evolving to severe forms of the disease.

Darias used the opportunity to express her satisfaction and sense of hope from this decision having been achieved, since the Government’s objective has always been to maintain the measure for “the minimum time essential”.

The minister recounted how the decision was made in December, at the twenty-fifth Conference of Presidents, where the situation at that time was analysed and evaluated. “Then remember that we were facing  exponential growth in the level of circulation, motivated by the Omicron variant, and we also had great uncertainty about how this variant was going to behave,” she explained.

“We said at that time, and we have reiterated, that it would continue for the essential minimum until the epidemiological indicators evolve, and that is what has happened, we have spent three weeks now in which all the indicators tell us what the evolution of the pandemic is. Going down,” she added.

Amós García, epidemiologist and president of the Spanish Association of Vaccinology, remarked that “the elimination of outdoor masks is an absolutely logical measure.”

“We are in the context of a decrease in the accumulated incidence that is gradually consolidating and, above all, it is a logical decision because, really, outdoor masks do not make much sense ,” the expert is reported as saying.

He emphasised that the probability of getting infected outdoors is “very complicated” and pointed out that “the problem is indoors”, always remembering the importance of wearing the mask when in any crowds.

“Logically, outdoor masks also have a key value in the context of crowds. If we find ourselves in a crowd, we have to put on the mask”, he repeated.

Spain’s Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, announced early this Friday the scrapping of mandatory masks outdoors, a measure approved in December during the rise in cases from the sixth wave of Omicron. Only two days earlier, an extension to the measure had been approved in the Congress of Deputies.

The new measure is now expected to enter into force next Thursday, after being ratified on Tuesday within the Council of Ministers and published in the Official State Gazette the following day.