It’s been in the pipeline for over a month now but now there’s finally an end date.
“This will be the last weekend we wear masks outdoors as from June 26th we won’t have to wear masks in outdoor public spaces anymore,” Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez announced on Friday morning during a speech held in Barcelona, indicating that the matter would be voted through by the cabinet on Thursday.
“Our streets, our faces, will start to regain their normal appearance in the coming days,” Sánchez capped off rather poetically.
Sánchez anuncia un consejo de ministros extraordinario el próximo jueves en el que se aprobará que la mascarilla no sea obligatoria en el exterior a partir del sábado 26 de junio pic.twitter.com/7lkPAS9Lbw
— Europa Press (@europapress) June 18, 2021
The Socialist leader had said earlier during this week that the outdoor face mask rule would “soon” end, but there were many who doubted Sánchez’s words as the country’s chief epidemiologist Fernando Simón said in mid-May this would happen “within a matter of very few days”.
It remains to be seen how the autonomous communities will react to the news, as some regional authorities such as Madrid’s have ruled out the possibility of easing face mask rules for the foreseeable future.
On Thursday June 17th, the government of the northern region of Cantabria also said it would listen to the experts but preferred to “not take any risks”. The disparity in opinions between regional authorities means some may be willing to appeal the cabinet’s decision next week in a bid to keep the outdoor face mask rule.
Face masks have been compulsory in public in Spain since May 21st 2020.
In March 2021, the Spanish government tightened the rules to require people to wear masks in almost all indoor and outdoor settings even if people kept to the safety distance, unless the activity is incompatible with mask wearing ie. eating, drinking, sunbathing, running etc
The backlash it caused after locals and tourists realised this would mean they would have to wear a mask while sunbathing or at the pool led Spanish authorities to tweak the legislation to allow some exceptions.
Back in April, the EU called for mask wearing among vaccinated people to be reconsidered in Member States.
Spain’s national Health Ministry had said that in order for people to go mask-free outdoors, at least 50 percent immunity among its population must have first been achieved.
As things stand on Friday June 18th, 47 percent of Spain’s population have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. The country’s current Covid-19 infection rate is also the lowest since August 2020.
For indoor mask legislation to be reconsidered, Spanish authorities have said that the 70 percent immunity target has to be met first, which according to Sánchez will occur in late August.
To read all the latest coronavirus news from Spain, click here for The Local Spain’s Covid-19 section.