Masks off outdoors – but how long will they be required indoors?
Infectious disease experts recommend older and vulnerable people to maintain the measure in outdoor spaces too
BarcelonaAs of today, masks are no longer mandatory in the street and will only have to be worn indoors as long as the current rates of transmission of the virus, which are still very high, are maintained. Outdoors, on the other hand, health authorities restrict its use to crowded spaces.
The use of masks is eliminated from outdoor spaces except in crowded outdoor events when attendees are standing or, if they are seated, when a safety distance of at least 1.5 metres cannot be maintained between people or groups of non-cohabitants.
However, there are professionals who also recommend wearing them in open spaces in some cases: when the person is at risk due to age or illness. "It is necessary to improve information for the self-care of vulnerable people and to promote the use of FFP2 type masks indoors, and outdoors when there are large crowds", say sources from the Spanish Society of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology (SEIMC).
Masks will continue to be obligatory for those over six years of age in enclosed public spaces, including public transport (platforms, passenger stations and cable cars) and, in general, if the interpersonal safety distance of 1.5 meters cannot be maintained. Although there are already voices in favour of being able to remove them when the epidemiological situation improves, the scientific advisory committee on covid still believes this is premature.
Antoni Trilla, an epidemiologist at Barcelona's Hospital Clínic, also believes that the mask mandate will last until the end of winter, but predicts that, if there is no unexpected turn in the pandemic situation, in spring or summer an easing of this measure in "quite a few" spaces, such as schools. could be on the cards. On the other hand, masks will remain mandatory on public transport.
The regulatory change has already been published in the Official State Gazette and includes three cases in which masks are not obligatory indoors. Firstly, people suffering from respiratory diseases or difficulties aggravated by the use of the mask or who, due to their dependence or disability, do not have the autonomy to remove their own mask, are exempted from the current regulation. Also excluded are all activities which, by their nature, are incompatible with the use of masks, such as swimming or playing sports.
The third exception is for enclosed areas for public use where people live, such as institutions for the care of the elderly or disabled, provided that these groups and the workers who perform their duties have a vaccination rate of over 80% with a full schedule and a booster dose. This exception does not apply to external visitors to these places, nor to workers in residential centres for the elderly or the disabled, since in this case the use of masks is mandatory.