Spain’s Council of Ministers look set to approve an end to most indoor mask requirements, on April 19, according to Spanish press reports this Wednesday, one of the last of the coronavirus pandemic restrictions still in force across the country, having decided to wait until after Easter to relax the mandatory use of the mask indoors. The intention to end mandatory mask use has also been confirmed by Spanish Health Minister, Carolina Darías

Masks will continue to be mandatory in nursing homes, hospitals and on public transport.

While there have been many loud voices calling for the removal of masks for months, some of whom have never agreed with the measure, polls have suggested that a majority of the Spanish population may still feel it is too early to let down our guard. However the Health Ministry and their advisors have decided that this could well be the right time to start to try to return to normality, though case numbers remain high, the incidence of severe disease appears to be having much less of a relative impact.


Carolina Darías Health Minister for Spain

Workplaces, hospitals and health centres
The Ministry of Health, following recommendations of the experts published in the recent Alerts Report, say that the use of masks should continue to be mandatory for healthcare personnel, patients and visitors to health centres. In turn, those admitted will also have to wear masks in common areas of hospitals. In the workplace, the report recommends continuing to use masks whenever work must be carried out at an interpersonal distance of less than 1.5 meters, and when adequate ventilation of the space cannot be guaranteed; as well as in the family environment, at gatherings with friends and private celebrations.

Nursing homes
Due to the vulnerability of the elderly who live and coexist in these nursing homes and similar facilities, mandatory mask use will continue both for the staff and for visitors.

Public transport
Difficulty in maintaining 1.5 metres distance between people on public transport, means the use of masks will also continue to be mandatory on buses, trains and possibly in taxis.

At the discretion of each
Other venues will be able to leave it to the discretion of individual responsibility to maintain the use of masks or not. Hospitality establishments, restaurants, cinemas and nightclubs may let customers decide whether or not to wear a mask, always taking into account any possible symptoms of the virus that they may present.

In turn, workplaces such as offices and other industrial settings should adhere to recommendations from occupational risk prevention services, which will assess whether the use of a face masks is to be necessary, depending on the individual facilities and the environment in which workers carry out their duties.

Moving from mandatory to recommended use in enclosed spaces for public use, such as shops (shopping centres, supermarkets and other small businesses); as well as enclosed spaces where people spend time without eating or drinking (cinemas, theatres, concert halls and museums) as well as indoor spaces where people do dine and drink (bars, restaurants and nightlife venues), so there will still be plenty of people who choose to take the precaution, but it will be left to their own best judgement, and of course there may be some establishments that continue to insist, as is their right.

Health Minister, Carolina Darias, said that “in Spain we have been giving strategic responses for each moment in which the pandemic situation has required it” adding that “thanks to the very high levels of immunisation among the population, the epidemiological situation is currently favourable.

In schools, mask use will only be recommended for teachers and other workers, as well as for students who may be vulnerable to risk factors. Minimal transmission among children and serious concerns over the negative influence on social interaction has led many institutions to urgently demand the withdrawal of this restriction in the classroom.