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Face masks removed indoors for the first time in 699 days: what are the exceptions?

Public transport, hospitals, and pharmacies among settings where measure not lifted

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20 April 2022 09:56 AM

by

ACN | Barcelona

As of Wednesday, April 20, face masks no longer have to be worn in most indoor settings across Spain for the first time in 699 days, that is, since May 21, 2020.

This means that masks are not mandatory in stores, restaurants, sports venues, cinemas, or theaters, among other establishments, as has been the case in all outdoor settings since February. The measure was lifted one day earlier in Catalonia’s primary and secondary schools.

Where do masks still have to be worn?

While face masks are no longer required in most settings, there are still some exceptions. 

They must be worn by everyone on public transport including buses, the subway, and trains, as well as taxis and other vehicles for hire, boats, and planes. They will not, however, be mandatory on train platforms and in train or bus stations.

In hospitals and other medical settings, including nursing homes and pharmacies, they are required of all staff and visitors. Nursing home users, on the other hand, do not need to wear them as they are considered to be at their place of residence. 

Who is advised to wear a face mask?

Though the obligation has been removed for most settings, the official publication of the decree in the Spanish government gazette still recommends the use of masks in certain settings. For many, face masks can still be an important tool to prevent infection of the coronavirus. 

Elderly people, those with underlying conditions and the immunosuppressed, and those who feel any symptoms are still advised to wear face masks in public. The use of masks is also recommended in enclosed spaces in public where people remain for a prolonged period, or at crowded events. Additionally, masks should be considered at any private event if a vulnerable person will be present. 

What if I have Covid symptoms?

Since late March, it has not been obligatory for people with Covid-19 symptoms to be tested, self-isolate, or seek medical care, when protocols were eased to treat the virus like influenza. 

People with symptoms are, however, supposed to wear masks in public and are advised to stay home if possible as well as to avoid contact with vulnerable people.

Can I be forced to mask at work?

You will still have to wear a face mask if you work in a medical environment or public transport. 

Other places of employment can choose to continue masking if their occupational hazard committees deem it necessary depending on factors such as the number of employees or ventilation.

Can I be forced to mask in stores?

Spain's health minister Carolina Darias confirmed that shops cannot force customers to wear a mask and cannot deny customers entry to the store for refusing to wear one.

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  • Spain's minister of health, Carolina Darias, in a press conference following the cabinet meeting to approve removing the obligatory use of masks in most indoor settings (by Borja Puig de la Bellacasa)

  • Spain's minister of health, Carolina Darias, in a press conference following the cabinet meeting to approve removing the obligatory use of masks in most indoor settings (by Borja Puig de la Bellacasa)

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