Spanish PM announces that face masks will ‘soon’ not be mandatory outdoors

Pedro Sánchez says the Covid-19 vaccination drive has reached ‘cruising speed’ after a record 3.5 million doses were administered last week

People waiting in line to get vaccinated in Seville.
People waiting in line to get vaccinated in Seville.PACO PUENTES (EL PAÍS)

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Wednesday expressed his confidence that “we will soon drop the use of face masks” while outside now that the country’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign has reached “cruising speed,” and that in a few days there will be 15 million vaccinated people in the country. Sánchez made the comments during a business event also attended by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who is currently on a state visit to Spain.

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“In a few weeks, 50% of the population will have at least one dose, and the plan is clear and is being observed,” the Socialist Party (PSOE) leader added, in reference to the objective of vaccinating 70% of Spaniards by the end of the summer. A record 3.5 million vaccine doses were administered in Spain last week.

After acknowledging the “serious blow” that the pandemic has dealt to the Spanish, South Korean and global economies, the prime minister added that “total vaccination” of the population is “the bridge toward total recovery.”

South Korea's President Moon Jae-in (l) is welcomed by Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Wednesday at La Moncloa prime ministerial palace.
South Korea's President Moon Jae-in (l) is welcomed by Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Wednesday at La Moncloa prime ministerial palace.SUSANA VERA (GTRES)

Spain’s Public Health Commission, however, which brings together the central Health Ministry and the regional healthcare chiefs, did not debate the possibility of dropping the obligatory use of masks at its meeting on Tuesday. According to sources from the Health Ministry, who spoke to the Europa Press news agency, “there is no date” for the coronavirus measure to be lifted.

Spain currently has very strict mask rules in place, including their required use outdoors by everyone aged six and over even when social distancing can be observed. But many health experts have been calling for an end to mask-wearing outdoors for some time now, given that there is no evidence that their use when there are no crowds is effective. A law has been passed by parliament making masks mandatory in public while the pandemic lasts. In order for their compulsory use to be eliminated, the government will have to approve a royal decree in the Congress of Deputies.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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