Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has announced that face masks will no longer be compulsory outdoors from Saturday 26 June. Speaking in Barcelona on Friday, he said, ‘this will be the last weekend that face masks will be mandatory’.
Addressing a business conference in Barcelona, Sánchez said: ‘I would like to start my speech by making a very important announcement for the 47 million compatriots in our country. I would like to say that we are going to hold an extraordinary cabinet meeting on Thursday at which we’re going to propose that masks no longer be obligatory in open spaces from Saturday 26 June.’
Masks could still be required, however, if a safe distance of 1.5m cannot be maintained with people outside your closest social bubble, according to some reports. Precise details will be announced before the cabinet meeting.
On Thursday, Sánchez had said citizens would be able to stop wearing face masks outside ‘soon’, without giving any specific date for the lifting of the restriction.
He explained that relaxing the measure is down to the speed at which the country’s vaccination programme is progressing.
Figures up to Thursday showed that 13,641,091 people have now been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in Spain, representing 28.7% of the population. 22,365,104 people have now received at least one dose, representing 47.1% of the population.
‘In a few weeks,’ said Sánchez, ‘50% of the population will have received at least one dose,’ adding that Spain was on course to meet its target of vaccinating 70% of its 47 million inhabitants by the end of the summer.
The comments from Sánchez came as France relaxed its own face mask restrictions from Thursday. People are no longer required to wear masks outdoors in France, though they are still obligatory on public transport, in sports stadiums and other crowded places.
In June 2020, Spain made the wearing of face masks compulsory indoors and outdoors, for everyone aged over six if ‘social distancing’ cannot be maintained. At the time, the former health minister Salvador Illa had said that the compulsory use of face masks would remain in place ‘until a vaccine is found’.
Last month, Spain’s Inter-Territorial Council of the National Health System published a new agreement on the mandatory use of face masks, allowing for some exemptions whilst on the beach or at swimming pools.
It came after the Spanish government’s Official State Gazette (BOE) published a controversial amendment to compulsory face masks on 30 March.
The amendment, which removed the reference to the 1.5 metre social distance, stated that individuals in public spaces were required to use face masks – regardless of the distance from other people.
This included the mandatory use of face masks at the beach and swimming pools – a decision which sparked particular opposition from the regional governments.
In response to the controversy caused by the 30 March amendment, the government readdressed the details and redefined the activities in which the use of face masks are incompatible. ALSO READ: Spain amends face masks rule on beaches to allow for exemptions.