The Government of Spain, as expected, have announced that face masks will no longer be compulsory as of Wednesday, 20 April 2022, albeit with some exceptions. Royal Decree 286/2022, of April 19, was published in the State Gazette (BOE) and modifies the guidance on mandatory use of masks, put in place during the health crisis caused by COVID-19.
The Council of Ministers approved the end of mandatory face masks indoors from 20 April. Minister for Health, Carolina Darias, argued that the high rates of vaccination against COVID-19 and the epidemiological situation in Spain have allowed this measure to be adopted. So far, 92% of the population – 39 million people – have been fully vaccinated, which has led to a decline in the disease and most of the national territory is now at low risk levels. Carolina Darias clarified that masks will not be compulsory in school settings. In the work environment, in general, they will not be either. However, those responsible for the prevention of occupational hazards, and in accordance with the corresponding risk assessments in the workplace, may establish appropriate preventive measures they deem necessary, including the continued use of masks. Such advice is legally binding.
At large events, such as sporting competitions or concerts, held both indoors and outdoors, it is not mandatory to wear a face mask. With regard to the continuity of capacity limitations, the minister indicated that this is the responsibility of the regional governments.
Exceptions to the removal of masks
Darias specified that masks will continue to be obligatory in certain contexts, such as in health centres, health services and establishments, hospitals, healthcare or transfusion centres, pharmacies – both for the people who work there and for visitors. They will also be required in care homes and nursing homes for employees and visitors, but not for residents.
The obligation is also maintained for air, rail, bus and ship transport when the 1.5 metre safety distance cannot be maintained. At access to stations or on platforms, masks shall not be compulsory.
The Health Minister stated that the Executive recommends the responsible use of masks among vulnerable populations, such as those over 60 years of age, immunocompromised people, people at risk of diseases or pregnant women.
The Ministry has also advised use by teachers or students who are vulnerable, at large events, in crowds and at family or private celebrations when a vulnerable person is in attendance.
The minister stated that the measure adopted today is a strategic response to the current epidemiological situation and upon the almost unanimous proposal of the members of the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System, which met in Toledo on 6 April.
Basic Do’s and Don’t for masks:
-You need to use them in health services and establishments, such as hospitals, health centres or pharmacies; workers and visitors.
-You need to use mask in socio-health centres, like nursing homes; workers and visitors.
-You need to use them in airplanes, and on buses. Also on all public passenger transport, but not on platforms and stations.
-In the work environment, in general, the use of masks will not be mandatory.
The Ministry of Health eliminates the mandatory use of masks in educational centres. Its use is allowed for those who decide to continue using them or who are in situations of vulnerability that are advised to.
After the approval in the Council of Ministers on Tuesday, April 19, modification to the use of masks in interior spaces at the request of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, Universities, Culture and Sports of the Government of the Canary Islands have informed educational centres of the application of this measure in the educational field on the islands, which after its publication in the BOE comes into force this Wednesday. In any case, those who prefer to continue using masks or who are in situations of vulnerability advised to do so will be allowed to continue using masks.
The adoption of this decision by the Ministry of Health occurs because although the pandemic continues to exist, its current characteristics have nothing to do with its start due to the current high vaccination coverage.
In this way, the use of masks is no longer compulsory in general in the educational field of the archipelago, and the centres will pay special attention to the prevention of any stigmatisation of people who choose to maintain their use in non-compulsory situations, promoting respect for diversity.
Those who present vulnerability factors should continue to make responsible use of masks, both in the case of students and in that of teaching staff and administration and services. Persons six years of age and older must continue to wear masks on school transport.
In Special Education Centres (CEE) with school residence considered as social health centres, the use of FFP2 masks by working personnel is still mandatory. In the Canary Islands they are the CEE and the Siete Palmas School Residence, the El Dorador CEE and the San Miguel School Residence and the CEE and the Hermano Pedro School Residence.