Spain’s Ministry of Health outlines when the mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors can be lifted
The director of the Centre for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies, Fernando Simón, believes that the relaxation of this measure could be possible ‘in a few days, provided that certain conditions are met
Summer is approaching, it’s getting hot, and face masks to help protect against Covid-19 are increasingly uncomfortable to wear, although they are still required.
For weeks there has been speculation about the possibility that they will no longer be mandatory, at least in certain situations, and this Monday (17 May) it was the Ministry of Health itself, through its spokesperson, that was optimistic about the relaxation of this measure.
The director of the Centre for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies (CCAES), Fernando Simón, said during a press conference that it is “very likely” that the use of a mask outdoors can be relaxed “in not many days”.
Simón did not want to venture to give a specific date, but he did say that it could be soon, in view of the good progress of the Covid-19 vaccination campaign and the decrease in infections.
“We have to begin to assess the relaxation of certain measures, such as the wearing of masks outdoors and the subject of social gatherings,” said Simón, who explained what would be the ideal incidence rate threshold to make these decisions.
According to the expert, this could be when the regions, or at least the vast majority of them, have a coronavirus cumulative incidence rate below 150, a figure close to the current average for the whole of Spain, which, on Monday, stood at 151 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days.
Simón also said that Spain is increasing the percentage of people immunised by almost 10 percent every 10 or 15 days, which also suggests that the end of wearing the mask outdoors is getting closer and closer.
But the epidemiologist also acknowledged that the evolution of infections could mean that this relaxation measure is not for the entire population or for all regions.
“We are evaluating many options; one is clear: we now have a population group, such as people in residences, with a high rate of immunisation and different measures can be proposed for these groups rather than in others,” he said.
Simón said that if the level of vaccination of the population continues at the current rate, it would be possible to eliminate masks outdoors for the general population, although for that to happen he considers that there cannot be great differences in infection rates between some regions and others.
“What we cannot do is expose ourselves to large outbreaks again, even in specific areas,” he said.
He also stressed that the end of outdoor masks will only be possible if other measures are maintained. “If we remove the outdoor masks, it does not mean that they must no longer be worn indoors or that we no longer have to keep our physical distance. Or if masks are removed in highly vaccinated groups, that doesn’t mean they can be removed in all social groups. Steps are going to be taken, but we do not want to be left with the idea that this is over completely,” he said.
Published surinenglish.com 24 May 2021