Posted: Thursday June 24 2021 12:48 PM
Spain says goodbye to the compulsory nature of the mask on the outside. The Council of Ministers certified this Thursday the approval of the royal decree by which, from Saturday June 26, this protection will no longer be necessary outdoors.
Now, although there will be circumstances in which it will continue to be required – from Health, they remember that it is no longer mandatory, it is to wear it, but that does not mean that we have to take it off – the population faces an almost unknown panorama since the appearance of the pandemic.
“This is an extremely important decision, because it will mean that masks give way again to smiling,” Chief Health Officer Carolina Darias said at the press conference after the Council. Thus, according to the leader, “all the indicators” suggest that Spain can take this measure, and focuses “not only on the incidence, but especially the occupation of beds”, show “a favorable development”.
However, the Minister recalls that this flexibility has a small character: as was decided at the meeting of the Interterritorial Health Council yesterday, Wednesday, the mask will have to accompany us as long as we cannot maintain the minimum safety distance, therefore like inside. bars, restaurants, offices, trains, buses and a long etcetera. “Let’s always take it with us, even if we don’t wear it,” Darias asks.
Where and when will it be taken?
The main novelty of Health lies in the nuance of distance. It doesn’t matter whether we are outside: if you cannot separate yourself more than 1.5 meters from any non-cohabiting person around you, you are obligated to take them with you. We review the specific places where this protection will continue to be needed:
– In all closed places open to the public. This is something the government once predicted, but now it’s confirmed. From libraries to supermarkets, not to mention that all public transport enters here as well.
– By bus, metro, air and rail transport, cable car or boats. However, in the latter case, the Executive accepted an exception: this will not be necessary in private cabins or in exterior spaces of boats where 1.5 meters of interpersonal distance can be guaranteed.
– During major outdoor events. Here, according to Health, it depends on the situation. If this is an event where crowds are expected and people standing, yes. If it is an event where the participants occupy seats and they are separated by more than 1.5 meters, no.
– In the residences. In this case, they will not be compulsory for residents – elderly people or people with functional diversity – nor for people with dependencies intended for essential workers. Of course, as long as 80% of the vaccination has been exceeded in these spaces. However, they will be compulsory for visits and for workers in establishments serving users of the center.
Could it become mandatory again in all cases?
Last Monday, the director of the Center for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies (CCAES), Fernando Simón, opened up the possibility that this protection against COVID-19 would be mandatory again if infections increased. However, after the nuances announced after the Interterritorial Health Council (and the obligation to wear it if there is no distance), it seems an unlikely event.
In that sense, as Simón himself said, it is something that “can happen”, but it influences his belief “that it will not happen”. Thus, the expert launched: “The measures which are taken now and which have been taken throughout the epidemic should not be qualified as permanent. They always depend on the epidemiological situation and the evolution of the pandemic. . ”
Thus, and despite the fact that the incidence has stagnated for two consecutive days, the increase in the vaccination rate suggests an improvement in cases. Without going any further, yesterday the milestone of having 50% of the Spanish population with at least one dose of the vaccine was reached. A new achievement that brings us closer to the objective of collective immunity.
Majority of CCAA in favor of mask removal, but not all
The removal of outdoor masks has been a hot topic at Interterritorial Health Council meetings in recent weeks. Municipalities like Galicia, Castilla-La Mancha, Madrid or Murcia were among the first to claim this flexibility, but on the other side of the coin were territories like Euskadi, Andalusia or Catalonia, where this measure was being considered, at least skepticism.
The fact is that the Government is the one who took the decision and it is on it, in the last instance, that its application depends. In this sense, this has materialized in a royal decree which modified the one approved in June of last year, dubbed the “new normal” decree. Thus, the modification must be applied throughout the territory.
This procedure, in turn, translates into something else: unlike what happened at other times during the pandemic (for example to decide on measures after the state of alert), this time measure n has not been voted on between the CCAAs.
A fact that provoked the reaction of various regional leaders, such as those of Andalusia, Castile and León or Madrid. Specifically, from the Andalusian Council, headed by the popular Juanma Moreno, they have already warned that they will continue to recommend the use of the mask outdoors although it is not mandatory; probably “until August”.
Also, from Castilla y León, President Alfonso Fernández Mañueco launched the following message, clearly criticizing the adoption of this measure: “We all hope that the mask disappears from our lives, but with caution and according to scientific, not political criteria. “.
A rejection that was also shared in the Community of Madrid, where the president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, despite the acceptance of the measure, the doubt took the decision “thinking of percentages, distances and vaccination”.
A new legal mess?
These approaches clash with those made by territories such as the Valencian Community, the Balearic Islands or the Basque Country, which initially opposed the lifting of the measure. Concretely, from the region led by Ximo Puig, they already guarantee that they will adapt their measures to lift the obligatory nature of the mask, as in the archipelago, where health has also confirmed that the inhabitants of the Balearic Islands will not have any problems. to do without a mask. in the street.
The question is what is happening in the Basque Country: on the very day the government approved the flexibility of masks, the Basque Parliament also did the same with its new anti-pandemic law. And it turns out that, in the proposal, the obligation to use protections on public roads is expressly included while the health emergency is in force.
However, this finds a simple solution due to the way it was decided to implement the measure. With the Executive having approved a royal decree, there is every indication that a complex legislative change will not be necessary.
In this sense, the Urkullu government was finally open to accept the change, but from the Basque Ministry of Health, they insist: “The mask will be necessary even in many situations on the street”, according to Jonan Fernández, the coordinator of the Council technical LABI Commission. Thus, the authorities recommend to always have the mask at hand, because it will be the responsibility of everyone not to worsen the epidemiological situation.