1208 Days Later: Masks will no longer be mandatory in healthcare centres, socio-healthcare facilities, and pharmacies, according to the latest agreement approved on Tuesday, July 4, by Spain’s Council of Ministers, which declares the official end of the health crisis caused by COVID-19.
The agreement, which will come into effect once published in the Official State Gazette (BOE), emphasises “the special vulnerability of healthcare centres” and “the need to reinforce the use of masks in certain contexts”: Individuals working in intensive care units and units with vulnerable patients; hospital emergency departments or primary care, including waiting rooms; residential centres for the elderly and disabled individuals; and symptomatic individuals when they are in shared spaces and the professionals attending to them.
Regarding residential centres for the elderly and disabled individuals, the agreement urges taking “additional precautions in case of symptoms appearing in workers, residents, or visitors, to prevent outbreaks and ensure the well-being of the elderly, both physically and emotionally.”
The agreement takes into account the latest report from the Centre for Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies (CCAES), which, in consensus with the Alerts Committee, considers that COVID-19 “has been controlled, and although this disease remains relevant to public health, it no longer represents a health crisis situation in Spain.
In May 2020, two months after the state of emergency was declared, masks began to be required under Spanish law, both indoors and outdoors and in any setting where social distancing could not be maintained. Many will remember that leaving the house at all was strictly controlled, though for some it seems a distant memory.
For more than a year, while we and the world followed daily infection rates, statistics, incidence levels and strains of SARS–CoV-2 (aka Covid-19) they were mandatory even outdoors, until on June 26 2021 Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s government announced they would no longer be required in the open air, so long as a distance of 1.5m could be maintained. The world started to open up again but removing the mask was only acceptable while eating or drinking.
It wasn’t until April of 2022 that they would no longer be required in indoor settings either, with the exception of at medical facilities, and on public transport. It took until February of 2023 for that to end, with masks no longer required on buses and trains and other forms of transport, however they remained in place for pharmacies and hospitals and other medical settings.