25th September 2022
People walking with face masks in Catalonia
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Face masks no longer compulsory outside in Spain – full details of new rules

Latest: Coronavirus in Spain figures (17 Feb)

Updated on Thursday 10 February at 12.30h

The new face mask rules have now been published in the Boletín Oficial del Estado (BOE). Face masks are no longer required to be worn by people aged six and over, except in the following locations and circumstances:

  • In any closed (indoor) space for public use or that is open to the public.
  • At mass events that take place in open-air spaces, when attendees are standing. If they are seated, it will be mandatory when a safety distance of at least 1.5 metres cannot be maintained between people, except groups of co-habitants.
  • On public transport, including air transport, bus, rail, cable car, including on the platforms at passenger stations and terminals, as well as in public vehicles (taxis) – and also private passenger vehicles of up to nine seats, including the driver, if the occupants of these passenger vehicles do not live at the same address.
  • In closed spaces on ships and boats when the safety distance of 1.5 metres cannot be maintained.

Exceptions to the above include:

  • People who present some type of illness or difficulty “that may be aggravated by the use of a face mask or that, due to their situation of disability or dependency, do not have the ability to remove the mask, or present behavioural changes that make its use unfeasible’.
  • In the event that, due to the very nature of the activities, the use of the face mask is incompatible.
  • In those places or closed spaces for public use that are part of the of the place of residence of the groups that meet there, such as the institutions for the care of the elderly or disabled, or units intended for collective residence of essential workers or other groups that have similar characteristics. This last exception does not apply to external visitors.

Original full report below:

Wearing face masks outside will no longer be compulsory in Spain from Thursday, the government spokeswoman Isabel Rodríguez confirmed after a weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

The rule change includes children at school during their breaks outside between classes.

However, face masks remain mandatory in indoor public spaces, including on public transport, and at large outdoor events where people are unable to keep a safe distance of 1.5 metres between them. Face masks must still be worn, for example, at outdoor concerts, where the audience is standing – and also worn when seated, if a distance of 1.5 metres cannot be maintained.

The Spanish Congress had originally voted last Tuesday in favour of keeping in place its current ruling on wearing face masks outside, with exemptions, and which was reintroduced just before Christmas to combat the Omicron variant of Coronavirus, that was soaring at the time. However, Health Minister Carolina Darias later stated during a radio interview on Friday that the measure would be dropped. The sixth wave of Covid now seems to be under control, with the latest figures showing the incidence rate to be back below 2,000 for the first time this year.

The current rules on wearing face masks outside (and which will end on Thursday) already included many exemptions. Face masks are not compulsory if you are doing exercise; in natural spaces, mountains or the beach; walking alone or with members of your own household, or walking with someone not from your household but where you can maintain 1.5m of social distance.

In June 2020, Spain first made the wearing of face masks compulsory indoors and outdoors, for everyone aged over six if ‘social distancing’ could not 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’.

In May 2021, 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.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced that face masks would no longer be required outdoors in Spain from 26 June 2021, except if a safe distance of 1.5m could not be maintained with people outside your closest social bubble. The rules for wearing face masks outside again were then reinforced from 24 December 2021.

Click here for all our reports on: Coronavirus in Spain

People walking with face masks in Catalonia
People walking with face masks in Catalonia. ( Laura Guerrero)

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