Face mask mandate in school playgrounds to be lifted

Measure to come into effect on Thursday although children 6 and older still have to wear masks in the classroom

Image of a primary school class in Lleida, September 2021 (by Salvador Miret)
Image of a primary school class in Lleida, September 2021 (by Salvador Miret) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

February 8, 2022 11:23 AM

School-age children in Catalonia will no longer have to wear face masks when in the playground and other outdoor areas from Thursday, as the government's Covid-19 committee agreed to lift the mandate on Tuesday morning.

Children over the age of 6, however, will still have to wear them when in the classroom. 

Government spokesperson Patricia Plaja said later on Tuesday that the cabinet had greenlighted the decision. She said removing the restriction was long-awaited in order to improve young children's "learning, enjoyment and emotional health." 

She added that this will not "compensate all the months that children have had to adapt" to the exceptional situation, but they can only remove this mandate now, because "the epidemiological situation allows it."

According to Plaja, the "next step" is to lift the obligation to wear face masks indoors. "But this will not be immediate," she clarified.

Although masks are still mandatory both in indoor and outdoor places open to the public across Spain, they will not have to be worn outdoors from Thursday. 

When the outdoor face mask mandate was lifted last summer – before being imposed again right before Christmas – children were still expected to wear masks in school playgrounds. 

Catalan education minister Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray has positioned himself in favor of removing them in schools altogether as soon as possible but insists it is a decision that must be made in accordance with health criteria. 

Also on Thursday night, nightclubs will reopen after one and a half months closed, with the obligation to wear face masks indoors, but without the need to show the Covid certificate. 

Covid-19 in Catalonia

The sixth wave of the pandemic is continuing to wane in Catalonia, as the evolution of most key pandemic metrics shows. 

While the incidence rate dropped by around a third in ten days, transmissions rates have hit the lowest value – 0.63 – recorded since Covid-19 first hit. 

As of February 7, 2022, official figures, released daily on this website, state there have been 2,294,374 confirmed Covid-19 cases and a total of 25,899 people with or suspected to have had the virus have died.

The vaccine rollout began in Catalonia on December 27, 2020. As of February 7, 2022, 6,468,199 residents have been given the first dose of the vaccine, 81.6% of the total population. Out of those, 5,684,157 have also been administered a second dose (71.7% of the total population). 6,193,383 residents are considered to be fully immunized (77.6%). 

Catalonia has administered 3,095,556 third doses (39.4%). Official data show that 43.8% of residents have received a booster shot (which includes those who had a third jab plus people who only got one jab in the initial vaccination series and then received a booster, their second shot).